Rumsfeld: Troops Provided Inspiration Through Challenges of Job
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 9, 2006 Asked during the days leading up to this week’s elections how he copes in the face of adversity, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he finds inspiration in meeting with and thanking the troops, particularly those wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Rumsfeld called the visits he and his wife, Joyce, regularly make to Walter Reed Army Medical Center here and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., “the most inspirational part” of his job.
“Any time anyone gets down, that is the place to go,” the secretary said.
These troops, as well as their families, “are just so proud of what they have done and recognize the contribution they are making,” Rumsfeld said.
They reflect what the secretary called a common understanding among the military men and women he meets as he travels around the world. “The reassuring thing is that when you talk to the troops, they get it,” he said. “They know what they are doing” and are able to rise above political debate to stay focused.
Rumsfeld said he’s felt privileged as secretary of defense to meet with troops and their families and to thank them personally for their contributions.
He reiterated that sentiment during a news conference at the White House yesterday after President Bush announced the secretary’s resignation. “I must say that it's been the highest honor of my life to serve with the talented men and women of the Department of Defense, the amazing men and women, young men and women in uniform,” he said. “It's a privilege. And their patriotism, their professionalism, their dedication is truly an inspiration. They have my respect. They will remain in my prayers always.”
As he reflected late last week on the contributions these troops -- particularly those who have been wounded or killed -- make to the country’s defense, Rumsfeld said he’s committed to ensuring that their sacrifices won’t be in vain.
“It has to be for a purpose. We have to stay and do what needs to be done … so the result is something that they feel is worth that contribution,” he said.