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Pence delivers in-person commencement address for military graduates

Washington, April 19 (IANS) US Vice President Mike Pence delivered an in-person commencement address for graduates of the Air Force Academy in Colorado, even as much of the nation remains shut amid the coronavirus pandemic.

No spectators, including family, were allowed at the event on Saturday, reports Xinhua news agency.

Seats for the graduates were separated to follow federal and state social distancing guidelines.

“We gather at a time of national crisis as the coronavirus epidemic impacts our nation and the wider world,” Pence told the academy’s 62nd graduating class.

Air Force Secretary Barbara M. Barrett, Space Force General John Raymond, the chief of space operations, and others also attended the ceremony.

Raymond said this is the first class of academy graduates that includes some who will enter the Space Force, the sixth and youngest branch of the US Armed Forces.

President Donald Trump said on Saturday that the commencement address he was slated to give at the US Military Academy, also known as West Point, was being moved to June 13.

Similar social distancing measures are expected to be at the West Point graduation.

“I understand they’ll have distancing,” Trump said during a White House press briefing.

“They’ll have some big distance, so it will be very different than it ever looked. Do I like the look? No, I don’t. And eventually, next year, they’ll have a commencement like it’s been.”

The US has the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the world at 734,969 and 38,910, respectively.

–IANS

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