It's a great honor to be in South Carolina, where patriotism is a passion that tops even barbeque and football.
And it's a great honor to be here at the Citadel.
Every great university and college produces future engineers, doctors, lawyers and entrepreneurs. Here at the Citadel, you do all that but you have another specialty - you produce heroes. Over 1400 of your alumni have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere fighting the war against terrorism. And sixteen have paid the ultimate price.
Since 1842, every tyrant, petty thug or great power that threatened America learned that if you wanted to take on America, you were taking on the Citadel. That's a line of heroes that's never broken and never will be.
This is a true citadel of American honor, values and courage.
The other day I heard the President say that Americans had gone "soft." I guess he wasn't talking about how hard it is for millions of Americans who are trying to get a job or stretch a too small paycheck through the week.
As each of you looks beyond this great institution, to the life before you, I know you face many difficult questions in a world fraught with uncertainty. America is in an economic crisis the likes of which we have never seen in our lifetime. Europe is struggling with the greatest economic crisis since the Cold War, one that calls into question the very definition of the European Union.
Around the world we see tremendous upheaval and change. Our next President will face extraordinary challenges that could alter the destiny of America and, indeed, the future of freedom.
Today, I want you to join me in looking forward. Forward beyond that next Recognition Day, beyond Ring Weekend to four years from today, October 7th, 2015.
What kind of world will we be facing?
Will Iran be a fully activated nuclear weapons state, threatening its neighbors, dominating the world's oil supply with a stranglehold on the Strait of Hormuz? In the hands of the ayatollahs, a nuclear Iran is nothing less than an existential threat to Israel. Iran's suicidal fanatics could blackmail the world.
By 2015, will Israel be even more isolated by a hostile international community? Will those who seek Israel's destruction feel emboldened by American ambivalence? Will Israel have been forced to fight yet another war to protect its citizens and its right to exist?