Class of 2009: No more words -- it's time for action

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- To the Academy Class of 2009, congratulations on this achievement! You've certainly earned it. 

You are the 51st class to graduate and it's a special honor for me and Debby to be part of your graduation. Your time here has been very personal to me. You were four degrees when I arrived and it's been one of the highlights of my career to watch your progress, mature and lead over these past four years. 

It's a privilege to be here in the shadows of our great leaders of today, and to celebrate with the leaders who will follow in their footsteps and help shape America's future. 

It is by no means an easy future. We are engaged in two wars on the other side of the world -- and we are engaged in a global ideological struggle against some of the most barbaric enemies we have ever faced. There are also many threats on the horizon, both traditional and nontraditional, and as always there are threats that still lie beyond the horizon, threats we can't yet even perceive. 

The challenges you face will test both your spirit and your resolve. The same healthy spirit you displayed when your class saw the return of Recognition and our critical Combat Survival Training. 

And in the years to come, I hope you will remember the satisfaction and excitement you feel at this moment with family and friends, with classmates and teammates, and with the faculty and staff who supported you. 

Thanks also to the sponsor families of these Airmen. Over the past four years, you have opened your homes to these young men and women, providing a good meal or a respite from Academy life. Or a shoulder to lean on. Your guidance and your caring helped make today possible for your Airmen. 

For today, you take on the awesome responsibility of protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States and the American people. Right now, we ask you to make the extraordinary the expected. 

In closing, as the end of my career is upon me, it gives me great satisfaction to see "my doolies" join the Long Blue Line. I salute you and wish you all the best as you embark on your careers as an Airmen in the world's most powerful air, space and cyberspace force. 

We expect great things from you in the years to come. The safety of the nation is in your hands - and there is nowhere else the American people would rather it be. 

Congratulations, Good Luck. Class of 2009, it's YOUR TIME!