- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 25, 2002

ANNAPOLIS Vice President Richard B. Cheney told midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy commencement yesterday that there is "no doubt" terrorists wish to strike the United States again and are working to acquire the most destructive weapons.

The United States must stop the terrorists in their planning stages and "one by one bring them to justice," Mr. Cheney said.

"We will not live at the mercy of terrorists or terror regimes," the vice president said, drawing applause from the 965 members of the Class of 2002 and their guests.

The ceremony took place amid heightened security at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Attendees had to show identification, pass through a metal detector, and allow purses and packages to be searched. Secret Service agents roamed the stands.

Mr. Cheney shook the hands of all the graduates as they walked across the stage to receive their diplomas.

The class consisted of 831 men and 134 women. All received commissions as Navy ensigns or Marine Corps second lieutenants, except for two graduates who will join the Air Force and four foreign students.

Mr. Cheney told the midshipmen that he knew they wanted to graduate immediately the morning of September 11.

"You are the first class in more than a generation to lead this country in a time of war," he noted.

"Your country has high expectations for you, and you will be equal to them."

Despite Mr. Cheney's sober remarks, graduates expressed no doubts about their decision to come to the Naval Academy or about their ability to do whatever it takes to protect the United States.

Jason Chen of St. Louis said his class "has the responsibility to take up the challenge" and will fulfill that duty.


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