Vice president to graduates: 'This is your moment'

Newly commissioned 2nd Lt. Ashleigh Peck celebrates following graduation from the U.S. Air Force Academy May 27 at Falcon Stadium.  She is slated to become an Air Force public affairs officer.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Dennis Rogers)

Newly commissioned 2nd Lt. Ashleigh Peck celebrates following graduation from the U.S. Air Force Academy May 27 at Falcon Stadium. She is slated to become an Air Force public affairs officer. (U.S. Air Force photo/Dennis Rogers)

Cadet Bradley Dewees recites the oath of office along with his fellow U.S. Air Force Academy cadets on his way to becoming a second lieutenant during the graduation ceremony May 27 in Falcon Stadium. Lieutenant Dewees was the top graduate in the Class of 2009.     (U.S. Air Force photo/Dennis Rogers)

Cadet Bradley Dewees recites the oath of office along with his fellow U.S. Air Force Academy cadets on his way to becoming a second lieutenant during the graduation ceremony May 27 in Falcon Stadium. Lieutenant Dewees was the top graduate in the Class of 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo/Dennis Rogers)

Vice President Joe Biden congratulates newly commissioned 2nd Lt. Kellen Curry during the U.S. Air Force Academy Class of 2009 graduation ceremony held at Falcon Stadium May 27. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)

Vice President Joe Biden congratulates newly commissioned 2nd Lt. Kellen Curry during the U.S. Air Force Academy Class of 2009 graduation ceremony held at Falcon Stadium May 27. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)

The 1,046 newly commissioned second lieutenants at the U.S. Air Force Academy commemorate their achievement by tossing their hats as the Air Force Thunderbirds fly over Falcon Stadium May 27.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Dennis Rogers)

The 1,046 newly commissioned second lieutenants at the U.S. Air Force Academy commemorate their achievement by tossing their hats as the Air Force Thunderbirds fly over Falcon Stadium May 27. (U.S. Air Force photo/Dennis Rogers)

Two Air Force Thunderbirds execute a maneuver over the U.S. Air Force Academy's Falcon Stadium May 27 following the graduation of the Class of 2009.  This was the 51st graduating class where 1,046 cadets were commissioned as second lieutenants.  Vice President Joe Biden was the commencement speaker.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Dennis Rogers)

Two Air Force Thunderbirds execute a maneuver over the U.S. Air Force Academy's Falcon Stadium May 27 following the graduation of the Class of 2009. This was the 51st graduating class where 1,046 cadets were commissioned as second lieutenants. Vice President Joe Biden was the commencement speaker. (U.S. Air Force photo/Dennis Rogers)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Vice President Joe Biden, the U.S. Air Force Academy commencement speaker, told graduates and newly-commissioned second lieutenants from the class of 2009 "this is your moment to bend history to the service of a better day." 

"You will carry our skies and beyond on your backs. I promise you, we will have your back. That is a guarantee," said Mr. Biden, addressing 1,046 graduates May 27 before they walked the stage to receive their degrees. 

Mr. Biden told the graduates and their families that the administration considers their safety and care upon coming home from war a top priority. President Barack Obama made similar remarks May 22 at the Naval Academy graduation. 

"Without you, we cannot survive," the vice president said. 

About 33,000 spectators including family members, friends and faculty assembled at Falcon Stadium here to witness the Academy's 51st graduation ceremony. The ceremony included an Air Force Thunderbirds flyover as graduates jubilantly tossed their hats in the air, a traditional ending to the event. 

The Academy is recognized as one of the nation's finest four-year institutions of higher learning. The school offers 32 academic majors including aeronautical engineering, biology, civil engineering, economics, computer science and space operations. 

The Academy's broad program of intellectual, professional, physical and character development is designed to prepare cadets to be tomorrow's air and space leaders. Cadets complete four years of studies leading to a Bachelor of Science degree. Emphasis is given to academics, military training, athletic conditioning and spiritual and ethical development. The school's admission process focuses on the major Academy experiences: academic, leadership, athletic and character.