Bush Challenges Nation to Promote Freedom by Supporting Troops
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 21, 2006 The best way for the American people to promote freedom and liberty around the world is to stand behind the U.S. armed forces, President Bush told a group yesterday at the City Club of Cleveland.
Bush said it's his responsibility as president to ensure the public understands why the United States is waging the war on terror and why it's important to stay the course. "And so I will continue making the case. ... But the best way you can help is to support our troops," he told a questioner in the audience at the free speech forum.
"You find a family who's got a child in the United States military, tell them you appreciate them. Ask them if you can help them," the president said. "You see somebody wearing a uniform, you walk up and say, 'Thanks for serving the country.'"
Bush praised the men and women who are sacrificing for the nation's long-term security. "Ours is a remarkable country where we've got thousands of people signing up, volunteering for the United States military, many of them after September the 11th, knowing full well what they were signing up for," he said.
"And what's amazing about our military is that retention rates are high; people are still signing up," he said. "They want to ... defend the country. And for that, I am grateful."
To one member of the audience whose son is a Marine, the president said, "You tell him the commander in chief is proud of him." Then, laughing, he added, "You tell him to listen to his mother, too."
While the American people support the troops, Bush said his job is to lay out the strategy for victory in Iraq so people understand and accept it and "to connect the notion of liberty with peace." It's a concept he said not everyone is able to accept, because they seem to believe that some people simply can't be free and govern themselves.
But Bush said he disagrees. "I strongly believe that liberty is universal. I believe in the natural rights of men and women. That was part of our founding," he said. "And if you believe in that, if you believe in the universality of freedom, then I believe those of us who are free have an obligation to help others become free."
Bringing freedom and security to Iraq can't be viewed without the context of the broader war on terror, the president said. "It's just a part of the war on terror. It's a theater in the war on terror, (just as) Afghanistan was a theater," he said. "We're in a global battle which requires strong alliances, good cooperation and a constant reminder of the nature of this war."