Bush to Troops: 'The American People Stand Behind You'
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2005 Victory in Iraq will require the strength and courage of U.S. servicemembers, who by fighting terrorists in Iraq are defeating a direct threat to the American people, President Bush said today at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
Speaking to the brigade of midshipmen, Bush said that although there is vigorous debate in Washington about the war in Iraq, the troops shouldn't doubt that the American people support them.
"When you're risking your life to accomplish a mission, the last thing you want to hear is that mission being questioned in our nation's capital," he said. "I want you to know that while there may be a lot of heated rhetoric in Washington, D.C., one thing is not in dispute. The American people stand behind you."
Debate should not be feared, because it represents one of the greatest strengths of America's democracy, Bush said. The service of military members is what ensures people have the right to debate, he said, and because of servicemembers' sacrifices, people in Baghdad are expressing their opinions freely as well.
Tough days are ahead before the mission is accomplished in Iraq, and America already has lost many fine men and women, Bush said, but the best way to honor their sacrifice is to continue the fight until the mission is complete.
Demonstrating the resolve of America's servicemembers, Bush read a letter left on the laptop computer of Marine Cpl. Jeff Starr, who was killed in Ramadi, Iraq, earlier this year.
"If you're reading this, then I've died in Iraq. I don't regret going,'" Bush read from the letter. "Everybody dies, but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we're in Iraq. It's not to me. I'm here helping these people, so they can live the way we live, not to have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. Others have died for my freedom. Now this is my mark."
America mourns the loss of all its fallen servicemembers, Bush said, and to ensure their sacrifices were not in vain, he pledged commitment to the troops serving today.
"To all who wear the uniform, I make you this pledge: America will not run in the face of car bombers and assassins, so long as I am your commander in chief," he said.
America will take the fight to the terrorists and will help the Iraqi people lay the foundations for a strong democracy, Bush said. He thanked the troops for their work establishing freedom in Iraq, which he said will ensure freedom for generations to come.
"Our freedom and our way of life are in your hands; and they're in the best of hands," he said.