Rumsfeld Calls Armed Forces Tribute to Unfaltering U.S. Human Spirit
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 18, 2006 Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld pointed today to two events that occurred on this date in history -- Col. Jimmy Doolittle's 1942 air raid on Tokyo and the San Francisco earthquake in 1906 and its aftermath -- as examples of America's spirit in the face of adversity.
"I mention these moments of triumph and tragedy because they remind us of the character of the American people and how Americans, over time, can and do overcome what might seem to be insurmountable difficulties," Rumsfeld told Pentagon reporters.
It's a spirit Rumsfeld said is embodied in today's members of the armed forces who are "a tribute to the American spirit that has never faltered and never will falter."
Rumsfeld noted today how, with the country facing a long string of defeats in the wake of the Pearl Harbor attacks, Doolittle led his "against-all-odds raid" against the Japanese Empire. He "hoped to score a psychological victory for the American people, and he did," the secretary said, extending appreciation to the living veterans of the raid who are meeting this week in Dayton, Ohio.
The secretary also recalled the dark days after the San Francisco earthquake, one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history that left the city nearly destroyed. "But thanks to the American determination and ingenuity, San Francisco was rebuilt and today is prospering," he said.
Today, when bad news seems to emanate from all corners, encouraging news is often overlooked, he said. He noted that the world is freer today than at any time in history, with volunteers enlisting or reenlisting at "encouraging rates" in what he called "the best-trained and most professional fighting force in the history of the world."
"Anyone who doubts our future need only think of those troops, their wonderful families and the millions of Americans who honor and support them," Rumsfeld said. "They are outposts of hope and a tribute to the American spirit that has never faltered and never will falter."
While Rumsfeld focused on the troops, reporters were more interested in talking about recent criticism against him and his future as defense secretary.
Rumsfeld noted the challenges the department is facing as it undergoes a sweeping transformation that upsets the status quo while at the same time fighting the global terror war. Change is always difficult, and decisions associated with them never please everyone, he said.
He discussed the decisions he has made during his tenure as defense secretary, noting that many "caused a lot of ruffles" but had to be made for the good of the force and the country. "I look back on those decisions, and I am proud of them," Rumsfeld said.
Earlier today, President Bush reiterated support for Rumsfeld in response to a White House reporter's question. "Don Rumsfeld is doing a fine job. He's not only transforming the military, he's fighting a war on terror. He's helping us fight a war on terror," Bush said. "I have strong confidence in Don Rumsfeld."
Bush said he listens to critics but maintains his support for Rumsfeld. "I hear the voices, and I read the front page, and I know the speculation," the president said. "But I'm the decider, and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense."