Joint Chiefs chairman, Massachusetts National Guard adjutant general speak to graduates

The 2020-21 academic year, as many others have at Norwich University, ended with a resounding boom. Cannon fire echoed sounds of celebration on Commencement and Commissioning Day, May 1, in honor of the Class of 2021.

After navigating the coronavirus pandemic and hybrid learning, about 447 students graduated at in-person Commencement ceremonies (after having to push last year’s ceremonies online when campus closed for infection curve flattening). Chairs were spaced extra wide at four ceremonies, and even if the graduates, and their guests, were in masks, smiles wide and proud surely spread under them.

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About 447 students graduated May during in-person ceremonies at Shapiro Field House and Kreitzberg Arena. (Photos by Mark Collier/Norwich University.)

Mark Anarumo led his first commencement as president, encouraging the Class of 2021 to do meaningful things, be inquisitive and learn. In his keynote Commencement address, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark A. Milley told the graduates they’d be well equipped to meet the future’s challenges as Norwich alumni. “You are about to graduate from an institution that has taught strength of character and leadership and perseverance. … All of you know what it means to say, ‘I will try.’”

Later that afternoon, 164 Class of 2021 graduates marched onto Sabine Field and Haynes Family Stadium for Joint Commissioning. With humor and reverence Maj. Gen. Gary Keefe ’86, U.S. Air Force Reserve and Massachusetts National Guard adjutant general, reminded commissionees that their commitment to national service — a path few follow — made them special. “Listen today to those words as you repeat them during your commissioning ceremony,” said Keefe, who described the Constitution, and the values it upholds, as a hopeful beacon to the world. “Let the weight of those words resonate within you.”

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