After four years of hard work and a week of celebration, almost a thousand cadets graduated from the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs on Wednesday, 28 May 2014. In a seldom discussed, but moving tradition, graduating cadets took their Oath of Office on Tuesday. The guests of their choice pinned the new officers in recognition of their commissions. After the ceremonies, participants enjoyed refreshments while awaiting their turn for personal photographs on the stage.
Vice President Joe Biden addressed graduates
Vice President Joe Biden addressed the graduates and the crowd in a commencement speech that urged wisdom and humility. He focused on the need for strategic thinking in a world that needed their assistance in the defense of human rights. He told the cadets, “The poet Thoreau said, ‘A bluebird carries the sky on its back.’ You are falcons, and you carry America on your back.” Biden praised the class for welcoming “gay, lesbian and bisexual cadets with respect”, reminding them of their code of honor. Finally, he praised the Air Force as a whole with the claim, “You’ve changed the face of the battlefield with your heroism and commitment.” The Air Force Academy has a history of excellence, accepting less than 10 percent of applicants.
Air Force Academy traditions carries on
At the end of the commencement exercises, the graduates tossed their hats high in the air as young children dashed into the field to retrieve them and the treasure they contain. Each hat contained $20.14, representing the year, in keeping with Air Force Academy tradition. Only children from age seven to ten can enter the field to collect them. As the hats fluttered in the sky, the thunder of the Air Force Thunderbirds rumbled overhead. The crowd thrilled to their return after missing their presence at the 2013 commencement exercises.
Presentation of Class Rings
A full week of celebration began with a theatre production of The Drowsy Chaperone, by the Bluebards. The troupe repeated the performance later in the week. Next, the Presentation of Class Rings came; open to cadets and their guests, followed by a formal ball. Baccalaureate Services took place on Sunday in Catholic, Jewish and Protestant services. The Superintendent’s Family Reception took place Sunday afternoon at the historic Carlton House. Also on Sunday, the Cadet Orchestra performed in Concert at Arnold Hall Theater. Award ceremonies filled Memorial Day with recognition of both organizations and individuals.
On Tuesday, the Stillman Parade Field was the venue for the unique graduation parade. Cadet flying teams presented aerial demonstrations, glider landings and a parachute jump. That night the formal Graduation Reception took place in the Mitchell Hall Dining Facility. Guests had the chance to meet senior staff as well as the celebrated Thunderbird pilots.
The cadets face great change in the near future. The fifteen international students will return to their home countries. About half, 445, will continue with pilot training. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James announced that more than 20 graduates would soon marry, as the prohibition from doing so ends. Many of the 761 men and 234 women will travel or relax at home during the 60-day respite they will have prior to entering active duty.
History on the Air Force Academy
President Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized the establishment of the Air Force Academy in 1954. After considering 580 proposed sites around the country, Secretary of the Air Force Harold E. Talbott selected 18,500 acres just north of Colorado Springs as the site of the Air Force Academy. In 1959, the first graduating class of 207 cadets tossed their hats into the wind. The U.S. Department of the Interior designated the Academy’s cadet area a National Historic Landmark as it proudly celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2004.
Since its inception, the Air Force Academy has been an integral part of Colorado Springs’ character. The academy sits northwest of Colorado Springs in the Northgate area. If you are interested in learning more about homes for sale near the academy, in Northgate, or throughout the area, contact Park Avenue Properties of Colorado Springs today.