Vice President Kamala Harris delivered the commencement address at the Naval Academy's graduation ceremony Friday — the first woman to do so in the institution's 175-year history, according to the New York Times and CNN.
Harris, the first woman and first person of color to serve as vice president, delivered the commencement at the school in Annapolis, Maryland, on Friday.
Her speech touched on the many challenges facing the U.S. at the current moment — the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and cybersecurity threats from foreign countries and independent actors.
"The global pandemic has launched us into a new era. It has forever impacted our world," Harris said Friday. "If we weren't clear before, we know now: Our world is interconnected. Our world is interdependent. Our world is fragile."
"Just think: A deadly pandemic can spread throughout the globe in just a matter of months," Harris said later. "A gang of hackers can disrupt the fuel supply of a whole seaboard. One country's carbon emissions can threaten the sustainability of the whole Earth. This, midshipmen, is the era we're in. It is unlike any era that came before. So, the challenge now, the challenge before us now is how to mount a modern defense to these modern threats."
"We must defend our nation against these threats and, at the same time, we must make advances in things that you’ve been learning," Harris said. "Things like quantum computing and artificial intelligence and robotics — and things that will put our nation at a strategic advantage. And you will be the ones to do it. You will be the ones to do it because the United States military is the best, the bravest, and the most brilliant.
Presidents and vice presidents commonly deliver commencement addresses at service academy schools. CNN notes that President Donald Trump delivered the commencement at the Naval Academy in 2018, and then-Vice President Joe Biden addressed midshipmen at the 2015 graduation ceremony.
Biden delivered the commencement address at the Coast Guard Academy last week.