Rumsfeld, Myers Call on Americans to Support Troops
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 29, 2005 In anticipation of upcoming Independence Day celebrations, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers asked for support of the troops and expressed confidence in the American people's spirit during a Pentagon town hall meeting today.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Joint Chief Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers answer questions at the Pentagon's first worldwide Town Hall Meeting on June 29. Photo by Staff Sgt. Myles D. Cullen, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
This was the first time the town hall meeting involved worldwide participation, taking questions from servicemembers and civilians live at the Pentagon session and via the Web from other parts of the world.
"America still remains what President Lincoln called 'The last best hope on Earth,'" Rumsfeld said during his opening remarks. "Certainly, on this coming Independence Day, we should all reflect on how truly fortunate each of us is to live in this blessed country. ... And most of all, we all should pause and remember and honor all of those who are undertaking the truly noble work of preserving our freedom. We are deeply in their debt."
The negative perception of operations in Iraq that comes from the media is not an accurate depiction of the situation there, Rumsfeld said. In fact, significant progress is being made, and Afghanistan and Iraq have hopeful futures, he added. The legitimacy and value of the missions in these countries, although they may be doubted now, will be proven over time by what Rumsfeld called the "inner gyroscope" of the American people, he said.
"We have staked everything on the idea that people, given sufficient information, ... will find their way to reasonably right decisions over time," he said. "They may move off for a period of time, but they'll come back. And I guess all we can do - all you can do, all I can do - is to continually look for people who will stand up and tell the truth, who will be willing to defend people who deserve to be defended, criticize people who deserve to be criticized, and to constantly try to get our eyes up off our shoelaces and look out on the horizon on things that are important and lasting, as opposed to being swept away by the emotion of the moment."
Judging a conflict by a certain moment's circumstances is dangerous, Rumsfeld said, and leads to unbalanced conclusions that are proven wrong when the conflict is viewed in the context of history.
"Balanced assessments certainly require time, they require patience and they require perspective," he said.
With the approaching holiday, it is important for servicemembers to hear messages of support not only from their senior leaders, but also from American citizens who appreciate the work they are doing, Myers said.
"We're all in this together in this country, with our friends and allies," he said. "You can serve in lots of ways."
To get ideas on how to support the troops, people can visit DoD's "America Supports You" Web site, Rumsfeld said, echoing President Bush's recommendation in his June 28 address to the nation on Iraq. America Supports You is a nationwide program launched by DoD to recognize citizen support for the nation's military men and women and to communicate that support to members of the armed forces at home and abroad.