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Bush Honors Lieutenant's Memory at Oklahoma State Commencement

By Petty Officer 3rd Class John R. Guardiano, USN
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 6, 2006 – President Bush today honored the memory of a graduate who died in Iraq during his commencement address at Oklahoma State University.

The president noted that 27 members of this year's graduating class are also receiving their commissions as Army or Air Force officers today as graduates of the ROTC program.

Bush commended the new officers for choosing to embrace public service and for following the example set by a 2002 OSU graduate, Luke James.

With a wife and infant son, "Luke had the world at his feet," Bush said. Yet, he chose a life of service and deployed to Iraq in 2004 as a second lieutenant with the Army's 82nd Airborne Division. Shortly after arriving, Bush noted, James was killed while leading his troops on patrol. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

"Luke James is part of a generation who are every bit as selfless and dedicated to liberty as any that came before," Bush said. "And the future of the United States of America is better because of the character of young Americans like Luke James."

The president observed that on the anniversary of her son's death, James' mother went to visit her son's grave, where a young soldier thanked her for raising such a fine young man. The soldier, Bush noted, said that James had saved his life.

The president quoted the lieutenant's mother as saying, "All of Luke's life, he was very dedicated to the concept of freedom. While no soldier wants war, he understood the necessity of war -- that it can ensure the freedoms we enjoy in America."

Bush noted the world's continuing march toward freedom.

"The advance of liberty is the story of our time," he said, "and we're seeing new chapters written before our eyes. Freedom is taking root in places where liberty was once unimaginable."

The president noted that 25 years ago there only 45 democratic countries worldwide; today, 122 nations are democracies. "More people now live in liberty than ever before," he said.

This advance of liberty is a harbinger of greater peace and prosperity for America, Bush said, "free societies are peaceful societies. As freedom spreads, because the threats of tyranny and terror will recede, and the rise of democracy will bring peace to the world and security to the United States America."

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President Bush's Commencement Address at Oklahoma State University

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