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At Naval Academy Commencement, Obama Talks Sexual Assault in Military

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(ANNAPOLIS, Md.) -- As a cold rain poured down on the commencement ceremony, President Obama addressed the graduating class of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., Friday and used the recent scandal of sexual assaults in the military as a call for the graduates to restore trust and honor in America’s institutions.

“We must acknowledge that even here, even in our military, we’ve seen how the misconduct of some can have effects that ripple far and wide,” Obama said at the Naval Academy commencement ceremony.  “In our digital age, a single image from the battlefield of troops falling short of their standards can go viral and endanger our forces and undermine our efforts to achieve security and peace.  Likewise, those who commit sexual assault are not only committing a crime, they threaten the trust and discipline that make our military strong.  That’s why we have to be determined to stop these crimes, because they’ve got no place in the greatest military on Earth.”

“Class of 2013, I say all this because you’re about to assume the burden of leadership.  As officers, you will be trusted with the most awesome of responsibilities -- the lives of the men and women under your command,” he said.

“When your service is complete, many of you will go on to help lead your communities, America’s companies.  You will lead this country.  And if we want to restore the trust that the American people deserve to have in their institutions, all of us have to do our part.  And those of us in leadership -- myself included -- have to constantly strive to remain worthy of the public trust. As you go forward in your careers, we need you to carry forth the values that you’ve learned at this institution, because our nation needs them now more than ever,” he continued.

Obama, who was speaking at his second Naval Academy commencement ceremony since becoming president, also touched on his drone policy, which he laid out in a speech Thursday.

“We still face threats from al Qaeda affiliates and from individuals caught up in its ideology.  Even as we move beyond deploying large ground armies abroad, we still need to conduct precise, targeted strikes against terrorists before they kill our citizens,” he said. “And even as we stay vigilant in the face of terrorism and stay true to our Constitution and our values, we need to stay ready for the full range of threats -- from nations seeking weapons of mass destruction to cyber criminals seeking to unleash weapons of mass destruction.”    

Dressed in their dress whites and dress blues, the graduates sat through a two and a half hour ceremony as a cold rain drenched them. Obama apologized for the poor weather, but noted “that Marines and folks in the Navy don't mind a little water.”

Wearing an overcoat, the president stood in the rain as he shook hands with each of the 1,047 graduates -- 764 Navy ensigns, 264 Marine Corps 2nd lieutenants, and three Air Force 2nd lieutenants; 841 men and 206 women.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio