(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Kicking off the month of June with celebrations, Falcon Stadium was packed on Thursday, June 1 as family and friends cheered on the more than 900 cadets who were graduating from the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA).
For one USAFA graduate, Benjamin Jefferson, he was at a loss for words in describing this extraordinary moment.
“Words really can’t explain what I feel right now,” 2nd Lt Benjamin Jefferson said. “The last four years, you know, all the hard work that went into this and to have this culminate event specially with the president here in commencing us. I have no words really.”
As the stadium filled with each cadet marching to their seats, loud cheers could be heard from all around, especially from the Pittman family.
“He’s excited,” said USAFA father, Travis Pittman. “We’re excited for him and pretty proud of him that he worked hard and now we’ve got through these four years.”
Pittman shared his son will be following in the footsteps of another relative in the family who also graduated from USAFA.
“So, when he was a little baby our son Jace, he came to this graduation and now 20 years later, they’re in the same squadron,” said Pittman.
President Joe Biden addressed the cadets, and shared optimism for their future.
“Never forget the sacred oath you swear, and the mission you serve is something far, far greater than any person or President,” said President Biden. “It’s our Constitution. It’s our country and it’s our enduring American values.”
President Biden also commented on the hardships and difficulties these cadets had to endure to get to this milestone.
“You’ve had to adapt and overcome time and again, to reorient yourself together with your squadron in your wing and find new ways to soar,” Biden said. “As we mentioned already, when COVID hit during your four-degree year. You had to… rapidly redeploy back to your home and learn new ways to study and maintain camaraderie…”
There was one individual who easily stood out in the stands, six-year-old Presley Davis, who wore a pilots outfit.
“I am excited about to see the jets because I want to fly in one,” said Davis.
To end the ceremony, the Thunderbirds took to the sky as the cadets threw their caps high in the air.
“My family is super proud, you know, I’m proud,” said Jefferson. “The last four years have been extremely difficult. And, you know, finally I got a chance to shake the president’s hand [it] was amazing.”
As cadets found their family and friends in the crowd, hugs and tears could be seen throughout the stadium.
When asked what words he would say to his son, Pittman said, “as a dad, you just, you start getting this love for your children and you’re worried about them and you want to see them succeed and find their way in life.”