- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 30, 2019

President Trump praised the 2019 class of the Air Force Academy in a muscular commencement speech Thursday, saying graduates will be part of a military that puts “America First” and won’t sacrifice U.S. interests to foreign powers.

“Our country is respected again,” Mr. Trump told the crowd in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “We are reawakening American pride and American confidence and American greatness.”

Warming up the crowd, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson credited the president with “reversing more than a decade of military decline.”

Mr. Trump picked up that theme, rattling off new investments in equipment and the launch of the Space Force. Today’s military is facing new threats, he added, though it will be prepared for victory and armed with the best.

“Hopefully, we never have to use it — peace through strength,” he said.

Addressing the cadets, specifically, he praised them for sweeping aside other opportunities and choosing a “harder path” as part of the U.S. military.

“You could have chosen any school. But you chose a harder path, and a higher calling, to protect and defend the United States of America,” Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Trump, who’s been battling a series of Democratic probes back in D.C., seemed relaxed during his speech, quipping the academy boasted a lot of good-looking people and pledging to shake every cadet’s hand.

“I’m staying for a thousand, OK?” Mr. Trump said.

The president gave a shout-out to Air Force athletics and heralded the winner of a collegiate home-run derby, even feeling his arm muscles.

“It’s real. That real. That’s great,” he said. “That’s a big deal.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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