Vice President George Bush told graduating midshipmen at the Naval Academy today that the nation's pride in the military has reemerged after a decade of harsh criticism that he "could never stomach."
Bush, calling for armed vigilance in these "dangerous and difficult times," echoed the themes that President Reagan offered to West Point graduates in similar ceremonies today. And, like there, praise of nation and duty was received with warm applause by an audience of new military officers and wellwishers.
A Navy pilot during World War II, Bush underlined the administration's commitment to sea power, pledging to work toward "a viable three-ocean Navy." He drew applause when he promised the United States would maintain a surface fleet that is ""fast, strong and flexible enough to protect our interests around the world."
"We intend . . . to continue to improve our submarine capability, to keep naval aviation, and surely that includes the Marine Corps, . . . in the forefront," Bush told the 947 members of the Class of 1981, arrayed before him in stiffly pressed dress white uniforms.
Let me assure you that our administration is determined to reverse the trend that has set in . . . vis-a-vis the power of the Soviet Union in terms of the Navy, so that the United States Navy takes its place, or keeps its place, if you will, as second to none on the face of the earth," Bush said.
"One thing I could never stomach . . . were the vicious attacks" in recent decades on thge military, Bush told the midshipmen, most of whom were commissioned as Navy or Marine Corps officers later in the ceremony. "And thank God we seem to have put behind us those far too frequent attacks on those who are willing to serve their country," he said.