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Pence Travels to Cadets' Graduation

Cadets file into a silent stadium without family and friends in attendance
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 19, 2020 12:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – In a nod to normalcy, Vice President Mike Pence delivered a commencement address to the Air Force Academy's graduating class on Saturday, telling the cadets that by setting off to defend the nation they "inspire confidence that we will prevail against the invisible enemy in our time as well." Pence's trip, his second outside Washington in the past six weeks, was aimed at showing that the country is on course to reopen after the pandemic shutdown, the AP reports. He spoke at a scaled-down ceremony outside Colorado Springs, where graduates in blue-and-white dress uniforms sat eight feet apart, taking up an area nearly as large as a football field. "I know we gather at a time of great challenge in the life of our nation," Pence said.

"And while we don't quite look like the usual graduation at the Air Force Academy, let me tell you, this is an awesome sight. And I wouldn’t be anywhere else but with the 62nd class of the Air Force Academy, the class of 2020." The event usually attracts a big crowd to Falcon Stadium, which holds more than 46,000. But the pandemic forced the academy to close the ceremony to visitors, including friends and family of the nearly 1,000 graduates. Still, the ceremony featured its signature dramatic flyover by the Air Force Thunderbirds, which thundered overhead as the graduates threw their hats into the air and burst into cheers. Instead of being able to embrace their fellow graduates, the cadets remained several feet apart and then proceeded to tie on white face masks.

(Read more US Air Force Academy stories.)

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