(CNSNews.com) – In a commencement speech Thursday to graduates of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., President Barack Obama said the U.S. military is stronger because women can now serve in all combat positions and because the U.S. is closing the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.
“And on this 40th anniversary of the first female cadets arriving at this academy, we are stronger because General Johnson leaves this institution, because Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson leads Northern Command, our nation’s first female combatant commander, and because all combat positions in our military are now open to women like you. We’re stronger because of it,” said Obama.
Robinson leads both the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOMM).
“Perhaps no element of our power is more enduring than the example that we set ourselves – the values we live as a nation and as individuals. That’s how we won the Cold War – not just with the strength of our arms, but with the power of our ideas, the power of our example,” the president said.
“It’s how we defend our nation, including our refusal to torture, because America doesn’t just insist that other countries respect human rights, we have to uphold them as well and lead the way. It’s how we treat those we capture. It’s one of the reasons we have to close the prison in Guantanamo, because America has to stand for rule of law,” he said.
“We live our values when our military like America itself truly welcomes the talents of all people. We’re stronger when our gay and lesbian cadets and troops can serve their country – a country they love without hiding who they love,” Obama said.
Obama recited the names of several Muslim-American cadets, saying America is “stronger” when cadets like these “know that we celebrate their service as proud patriotic Muslim-Americans who are also serving in our armed forces.”
“So there you have it, a few thoughts from your commander-in-chief on how to keep our military strong, and our nation secure. We can never know what the future holds, but in the not-so-distant future when I’m no longer president, I will sleep well at night, because I know that men and women like you serve to keep us free,” he concluded.