Air Force Academy graduates first openly gay cadets

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Yesterday was an historic day. The President spoke at the commencement ceremony of the Air Force Academy, and nearly eight months after the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” the Academy graduated its first openly gay cadets.  The cadets were not identified but school officials confirmed that since repeal of the policy at least four cadets from the graduating class are openly gay.

In his commencement address, President Obama said the graduation marked “a new feeling in America.” The cadets are graduating into a world without Osama Bin Laden, a world where we have ended the war in Iraq, and where we have finally begun the process of drawing the war in Afghanistan to a close.  The President also highlighted the Air Force’s contributions to those conflicts as well as our brief involvement in the conflict in Libya.

“Even as we’ve done the work of ending these wars, we’ve laid the foundation for a new era of American leadership,” Obama said. “And now, cadets, we have to build on it. Let’s start by putting aside the tired notion that says our influence has waned, that America is in decline. We’ve heard that talk before.”

The upbeat speech was the last of the President’s graduation addresses for this year, and it will certainly go down in history – not because of anything Obama said, but because of the young cadets who the first to graduate in this new era of equality in the military.

Watch the president’s commencement speech below (Transcript here):

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