For the first time in its 209 year history of the United States Military Academy, a First Lady spoke to the Corps of Cadets. It happened on the eve of graduation, last Friday, when Michelle Obama spoke to more than 4,800 cadets, family and military brass inside the Cadet Mess Hall during the annual graduation banquet.

The First Lady was escorted into the hall by West Point Superintendent Gen. David Huntoon, Jr.

Mrs. Obama acknowledged the long, hard journey the cadets made to get to where they are today. “That’s the beauty of West Point. It’s a place where you learn that your greatest achievements will never come easily, and they will never be achieved alone.

“You learn that duty, honor, and country are not simply words, but guideposts. They dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be,” said Mrs. Obama.

The Fist Lady also explained to the graduates why their role was so important to so many people. “Soon, you’ll be serving not just for yourselves, and not just for your own families, but for these families, too. You’ll be helping your troops deal with the joy of a newborn and the disappointment of not being in the delivery room. You’ll be helping a Soldier cope with a family emergency halfway around the world. And you’ll see again and again that those family relationships are just as important to a soldier’s success as anything that you can provide them in the field,” said Mrs. Obama.

The following day, more than 1,000 of those cadets would graduate and be commissioned as second lieutenants in the Army.

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