ABC News' Jan Simmonds reports:
Nine years after going to war following the attacks of 9/11, President Obama spoke to the graduates at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point today, congratulating them on their achievements and thanking them for their continued service.
“This war has changed over the last nine years, though it is no less important than it was in those days after 9/11,” said Obama, who went on to warn that there is no clear finish line to the battle.
“There will be no simple moment of surrender to mark the journey’s end – no armistice or banner headline,” Obama told the over 20,000 in attendance. “Though we have had more success in eliminating al Qaeda leaders in recent months than in recent years, they will continue to recruit, plot and exploit our open society.”
Making reference to the attempted domestic attacks over the past six months, including the recent effort in New York City’s Times Square, President Obama noted that “these failed attacks show that pressure on networks like al Qaeda is forcing them to rely on terrorists with less time and space to train.”
This was Obama's second visit to West Point as president. In December, he visited the military academy to announce his decision to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. Of the 1,002 cadets who were expected to receive diplomas today, most are expected eventually to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan. Shortly after the National Anthem had concluded at today’s ceremonies, news came from the U.S. military that, earlier on Saturday, three service members had been killed following an insurgent attack in southern Afghanistan.
Looking towards the day “years from now” when these graduating cadets hopefully will be able to return to these grounds, Obama vowed that they will see that the United States “will have prevailed in the struggles of our times – that your legacy will be an America that has emerged stronger, a world that is more just.”
Following the commencement, President Obama is scheduled to return to Washington via Air Force One.