Bush Attributes Progress in Iraq to American, Coalition Troops
By Tech. Sgt. Elaine Wilson, USAF
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 27, 2006 The formation of a democratic government in Iraq marks a significant victory for the cause of freedom in the Middle East and a hard-earned victory for American servicemembers who have sacrificed for their nation, President Bush said today.
"America is free because of generations of young Americans who have been willing to sacrifice to defend the country they love, so their fellow citizens could live in liberty," Bush said in his weekly radio address to the nation.
Bush singled out the sacrifice of one American, Army 1st Lt. Rob Seidel, a 2004 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., who gave his life in Iraq earlier this month.
"Rob grew up in Maryland and, as a child, he and his family made frequent visits to the Civil War battlefield at Gettysburg (Pa.)," Bush said. "And, from his earliest days, he dreamed of serving in the U.S. Army."
Seidel deployed to Iraq with the 10th Mountain Division and was killed by a bomb in Baghdad.
"His father says this about Rob," Bush said. "'He loved his family and believed in God, and he loved his country, and he was willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of his country.'"
Seidel's sacrifice wasn't in vain, Bush said. "In recent days in Iraq, we've seen what their sacrifices have made possible," adding that it was just a week ago when the new prime minister announced the formation of a national unity government.
Bush said British Prime Minister Tony Blair brought back encouraging news after a visit to Baghdad to meet with Iraq's new leaders.
"Prime Minister Blair told me that Iraq's new leaders are determined to rid their country of terrorism, unite Iraqis as one people, and deliver peace and prosperity for all their citizens," he said.
Blair's report underscores the significance of progress in Iraq, which is a victory not only for coalition forces, but also for Iraqis, Bush said. "It is a victory for millions of Iraqis who defied the terrorists and cast their ballots in three elections last year," Bush said. "It is a victory for the Iraqi security forces who fought and bled for this moment and now have a democracy worthy of their sacrifice."
The new government in Iraq also struck a blow to terrorists worldwide "who fought the arrival of a free and democratic Iraq with all the hateful power they could muster," Bush said. "Now, a day that they feared has arrived. The terrorists are now fighting a free and constitutional government."
America will stand by the Iraqi people and their new leaders in a joint determination "to defeat this enemy," Bush said.
As Americans pay tribute to servicemembers over Memorial Day weekend, Bush urged people to remember Seidel and others who have "given their lives for freedom, liberated the oppressed, and left the world a safer and better place."
"The best way to honor America's fallen heroes is to carry on their fight, defend our freedom, and complete the mission for which they gave their lives," he said.
Bush noted that he was to speak today to the West Point graduating class and visit with "the brave men and women who will soon take their own place in the defense of our freedom."