SEC. RUMSELD: [Cheers.] Thank you. All right. Well, we’ve got General Cody back there. We even have Mrs. Cody. [Cheers] And we’ve got the president of the USO, Mr. Powell. Do you want to wave your hand? [Cheers] We sure appreciate all you do.
Well, greetings to all of you here and to all of those all across the globe watching on The Pentagon Channel. [Applause] Why not a free plug, right? [Laughter.]
We welcome all of you here and abroad and we thank you for joining us for this special USO Pentagon celebration of National Military Appreciation Month. We have a proud patriot and, goodness knows, a loyal friend of the United States Military here today with us -- a truly great performer and star. She’s hiding back there, but her name’s Wynonna Judd. How about that? [Cheers] [Applause] And also the able members of her band right behind us here. [Cheers] [Applause]
Someone down there turned to General Pace and to me and said and then to Wynonna and said, “Are you ready?” And she said, “I was born ready.” [Cheers.]
It’s been a busy time for her. She recently has visited with the service members recuperating from their wounds from Walter Reed. [Cheers] Here they are, right in the front row. [Applause] Thank you so much for being here. [Applause]
Wynonna also performed for President Bush and the First Lady very recently. And I’m told, she’s going to be with President Bush, 41, for his birthday, right after he jumps out of an airplane, I think. [Laughter.] Now for any of you who think that might be new for Wynonna Judd, let me tell you, it’s not. She’s a long-time supporter of the USO, performing as far back as 1987. That’s far back for her. It’s not very far back for me. [Laughter.]
But this great performer was on a USO tour of Cuba and Honduras, has performed several times for the troops at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, General Cody tells me. She also wrote a song for the Todd Beamer tribute album that’s titled “Let’s Roll.” And she has been a solid friend of U.S. forces defending freedom around the globe. So we’re fortunate to have her here. And on behalf of all of us here, I certainly want to thank all the folks that are serving our country all across the globe for their courage, for their dedication, for their vigilance in defense of American freedom and security and for the support of their families as well who also serve.
I now have the pleasure of asking the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, four-star General Peter Pace, the first Marine to be vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Peter Pace.
GEN. PACE: Thank you. Well, thank you all very much. Mr. Secretary, thank you, sir. It’s my great pleasure to stand here with the secretary and say thank you first to the USO. What an incredible organization for so many decades reaching out to service members around the globe. They continue to do it today. And God bless them for the work that they do.
Second -- [Applause] second, to thank Wynonna for all of us in uniform. She’s an incredible artist, an incredible talent, a wonderful patriot and she does things that she doesn’t want us to talk about publicly. But when the troops come home to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in the middle of the night, she’s there to say thanks to them, quietly. She doesn’t want any publicity. There’s so many things that she has done for all of us behind the scenes that if we could tell you publicly, it would really tug at your heart. But Wynonna, thank you for what you do that we know about but, more importantly, thank you for what you do that we don’t know about. [Applause.]
And last, to say to these wonderful service members in front us who have been wounded in combat, thank you for your service to your country. And through you, thanks to all the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marine, coast guardsmen who are still out there doing the job for us and your families and their families. You are incredible patriots. You are doing a wonderful job with this country and we are deeply indebted to you. [Applause.]
SEC. RUMSELD: Now, what do you say we get down to business? [Cheers] Here’s Wynonna Judd. Here she is. [Applause.]