President Joe Biden will deliver the commencement address for the Class of 2023 at the U.S. Air Force Academy’s June 1 graduation ceremony, the White House announced Saturday.
The occasion marks Biden’s third graduation speech at Falcon Stadium and his first as president. He previously spoke at USAFA commencements while serving as vice president in 2014 and 2009.
The announcement comes days after current and former government officials confirmed that Biden plans to choose Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown Jr. as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The president has not made a final decision, National Security Council spokespeople said Friday.
Biden, who announced his reelection campaign for president last month, teased the upcoming visit to Colorado while presenting the Air Force Falcons football team with the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy at the White House April 28.
“In a few weeks, I’ll be headed to your home turf for commencement — you’re going to get stuck with me being your commencement speaker — and where 10 of these cadets behind me will officially become officers in the United States Air Force and Space Force,” he said.
Referencing President Dwight Eisenhower’s graduation remarks at the academy’s first commencement, Biden continued: “You can’t talk about the soul of the nation without talking about our service academies. … And you can’t talk about the service academies without talking about duty, teamwork, service and excellence.”
Since his election to the nation’s highest office in 2020, Biden has offered commencement remarks at the U.S. Naval Academy, Coast Guard Academy, South Carolina State University, and his alma mater, the University of Delaware.
He is the ninth sitting president to speak at the USAFA graduation. Others include Presidents Donald Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and John Kennedy.
The Colorado Springs campus prepares thousands of students to become commissioned officers in the Air Force and Space Force each year. Around 1,140 students arrived for basic cadet training as part of the Class of 2023, the school said in 2019.
USAFA has resumed in-person graduation events after the coronavirus pandemic forced the school to scale back the ceremonies in 2020 and 2021. The school’s 65th commencement ceremony begins at 9:30 a.m. local time and will be live-streamed online.
Rachel Cohen is the editor of Air Force Times. She joined the publication as its senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), Air and Space Forces Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy and elsewhere.