Michelle Obama addresses West Point's Class of 2011

First lady Michelle Obama was in the Hudson Valley tonight, meeting with West Point cadets on the eve of their graduation.

Obama made her first visit to the U.S. Military Academy to speak at a banquet for the Class of 2011. She sat down to dine with more than 1,000 cadets and their families during a special commencement banquet inside the school's castle-like mess hall.

The first lady congratulated the cadets on their accomplishments and spoke about the challenges that lie ahead. Obama kept the importance of family an ongoing theme throughout her speech, telling graduates that their loved ones will be their rocks whether they're at home or overseas.

The visit marked the first time in history that a first lady has visited the school. The White House said that Obama's visit tonight, along with another on June 3 to Quantico Middle High School on the Marine Corps Base in Virginia, underscores her commitment to the military.

Earlier in the day, cadets took part in an annual commencement parade on campus, while family and friends watched proudly.

AP wires services contributed to this story

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