Vice President Mike Pence made the trip to Connecticut Wednesday for the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s 137th Annual Commencement Ceremony, where he delivered the keynote address.
“On behalf of your commander in chief, welcome aboard and welcome to the good fight,” Pence said to the 209 cadets graduating.
“Many people spend their entire lives looking for a calling. You found yours early,” Pence said. “You were called to serve the greatest nation on earth.”
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During his speech, Pence put a focus on family and told the cadets they are the pride of their families and the American people.
“I can tell you today when your loved ones fix those bars on your shoulders it will be one of the proudest days of their lives and I know what I’m talking about,” Pence said. “Other than my wedding day, I count the day that Karen and I fixed the bars on our son’s shoulders as one of the proudest days of our lives.”
He went on to tell the graduates that President Donald Trump will have their back as they carry out their duties.
“Over the past 16 months, President Trump has already taken decisive action to rebuild our military; to restore the arsenal of democracy; to give our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and our great Coast Guard the resources and the training you’ll need to accomplish your mission and come home soon,” Pence said.
The New London Police Department has had all staff members working today and officers use the same plans every year they run a large event at the Coast Guard Academy, according to Chief Peter Reichard. But this year there will be less mutual aid.
“We haven’t had the number of reports of protesters coming in as they were last year like we did when President Trump was in town,” Reichard said.
Signs on posts and masks are not allowed. Peaceful protests are.
Reichard said Tuesday there had been no permits for protest.
Some protesters did line the area around Williams Street and Mohegan Avenue Parkway, holding signs including “Healthcare Not Warfare,” “Honk for the Dreamers,” “Declare eternal hostility to poverty, racism and militarism,” and more.
“No parking” signs have been placed on roads near the academy and restrictions are in effect on River Ridge Road, Deshon Street, Nameaug Avenue, Oneco Avenue, Farnsworth Street, Winchester Road and Uncas Avenue.
Riverside Park is also closed to the public. Crews from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said Bluff Point State Park will also be closed Wednesday.
Town of Groton Police are shutting down Tower Avenue, High Rock Road, and Poquonnock Road west of Trails Corner.
Officers are providing protection with the transport of Vice President Pence from the Groton-New London Airport and back.
City of Groton Police will assist with street closures and traffic while the Vice President is in transit. Waterford Police will provide a water patrol. State police will assist with the escort.
Agent Peter Quinn with the U.S. Secret Service said Interstate 95 will be closed to traffic when the vice president is on the road. While the closures do not have a set time, he said they will last approximately 10 minutes each.