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Find, Fight, Destroy Enemy in Iraq, Cheney Tells Veterans

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 19, 2005 – The U.S. military will not relent in its effort to track down terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere, Vice President Richard Cheney said Aug. 18.

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Vice President Richard Cheney shakes hands with Marine Sgt. Justin Genovese at the 73rd National Convention of the Military Order of the Purple Heart in Springfield, Mo., Aug. 18. Genovese was wounded in battle in Iraq, Aug. 4, 2004. Photo by David Bohrer

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"This is not a war we can win strictly on the defensive. Our only option against these enemies is to find them, to fight them and to destroy them," he told the 73rd National Convention of the Military Order of the Purple Heart in Springfield, Mo.

"These enemies hate us, they hate our country, and they hate the liberties for which we stand," he said.

"They have contempt for our values. They doubt our strength. And they believe that America will lose our nerve and let down our guard. They are sorely mistaken."

"We will not relent in this effort, because we have the clearest possible understanding of what is at stake."

Pointing to terrorist attacks in Spain, Egypt, Indonesia, and especially in the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, the vice president said Iraq has become a critical front in the war on terror, and that victory there is vital to the future security of the U.S. and other free nations.

"We will not sit back and wait to be hit again," he said of the 9/11 attacks. "We will do everything we can to prevent attacks by taking the fight to the enemy."

"That is the commitment ... that we've made to ourselves and to other nations. And with good allies at our side, we will see this cause through to victory."

During his speech, Cheney characterized the enemy the military faces in Iraq as ruthless.

He pointed out that in Iraq, terrorists have slaughtered innocent people in marketplaces, in restaurants, in private homes, at police recruiting stations, in a hospital and outside a mosque.

"They have beheaded bound men in front of cameras, and killed U.N. employees and international aid workers," he said.

Earlier this summer as U.S. troops were handing out candy to Iraqi children on the street, he said a suicide bomber drove into the crowd, killing 18 boys and girls and one soldier.

"That's the nature of the enemy we face in the war on terror, and will face for the duration of this struggle," he explained. In defying criticisms of the military's goals in Iraq, the vice president said the U.S. mission there is clear and that progress is being made on many fronts.

Militarily, he said, "We are hunting down terrorists, and training Iraqi security forces so they can take over responsibility for defending their own country."

Politically, he added, the U.S. is helping Iraqis build a "vital, peaceful, self-governing nation that can be an ally in the war on terror."

To that end, he said that over time, "As Iraqi forces stand up, American forces will stand down."

During his speech the vice president offered some encouragement for current Purple Heart recipients recovering in military hospitals around the world, telling the audience: "They can be assured of the finest care we can give them.

"These Americans can wear the Purple Heart with pride, knowing with absolute certainty that they have contributed to the future safety of this nation and to the peace of our world."

"Every man and woman who fights and sacrifices in this war is serving a just and noble cause," Cheney added. "This nation will always be grateful to them, and we will honor their sacrifice by completing our mission."

On its Web site, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, founded in 1932, calls itself the "only congressionally chartered veterans organization exclusively for combat-wounded veterans."

"I am in the presence today of fellow citizens who have shown those qualities under enemy fire," Cheney noted. "In the words of one of your department commanders, 'It can be a very high price to join our organization.'"

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Related Sites:
The Military Order of the Purple Heart

Click photo for screen-resolution imageVice President Dick Cheney speaks to the attendees at the 73rd National Convention of the Military Order of the Purple Heart in Springfield, Mo., Aug. 18. The organization was formed in 1932 for the protection and mutual interest of all who have, as a result of being wounded in combat, received the Purple Heart. Photo by David Bohrer  
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