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‘Tis the season of the commencement address, that glowing tradition in which American presidents participate enthusiastically. Starting with Eisenhower, every president has made at least one commencement address in the first year of their presidency. Most gave only one or two addresses, but George H.W. Bush set the record by making six addresses in 1989. LBJ was runner-up with 5 in 1965. The earliest instance of a commencement address is Theodore Roosevelt in his 1902 address at the Naval Academy—the most frequent commencement destination. Turns out, the military academies account for 30% of presidential commencement addresses. Occasionally, commencement addresses have involved an extended articulation of an important new policy position but that is relatively rare. Commonly, presidents state their position on prominent contemporary issues. Almost always, they provide an opportunity for presidents to extol shared American values and international commitments.
President Reagan was no exception.
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