"You are our real competitive advantage," said Walters. "The young men and women who are trained in an institution like this, who will raise your hand in one hundred days, are our greatest advantage. You are our center of gravity.”
Senior leaders from the Marine community and academy faculty celebrated the heritage, responsibility and camaraderie the midshipmen will inherit as members of the Corps.
“The opportunity you have that lies before you is an opportunity of a lifetime,” said Commandant of Midshipmen Col. Stephen Liszewski. “It is the chance to live a life of substance and a life of consequence. I am excited for your future, and even more than that, I am excited to serve with you in our great Marine Corps in the years ahead.”
The Naval Academy Class of 2017 received their service assignments in November. As they get closer to graduation, they have the opportunity to celebrate their future service with their peers and mentors during the annual community dinners.
“It feels great to have an event like this,” said Midshipman 1st Class Kerri Haller. “Everyone is here to help us and give us guidance. All of us are starting a new career path, in a new service, and this welcoming support makes the transition much easier.”
“It’s really quite an honor to be here with all of the current and future Marine aviators of my class,” said Midshipman 1st Class Cori Caggiano. “It feels like a culminating event that really celebrates everything we have been working towards the past three and a half years.”
After graduation, the newly-commissioned second lieutenants will head to the Basic School in Quantico, Va. to prepare them for duty as company grade officers in the operating force.
“Here at USNA, we have the rare and amazing experience to have leadership from the communities we are entering teach and guide us throughout our time here,” said Midshipman 1st Class Elizabeth Field. “Even tonight, we have the opportunity to speak with some of the highest-ranking officers who hold the job or position that we could possibly have one day. It’s a very humbling experience.”