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Rumsfeld Reminds Troops: "America Supports You"

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 8, 2005 – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sent heartfelt appreciation to U.S. servicemembers as part of DoD's "America Supports You" program and a reminder that the country is united behind its men and women in uniform.

"I simply want you to know that our country cares a great deal about you," the secretary said during his taped message, being aired on the Pentagon Channel and the America Supports You Web site. "I don't go anywhere that I don't have people express their admiration, their respect, and their confidence in your dedication and professionalism," the secretary said.

"We are so fortunate to have men and women you, to be specific willing to put your hand up and volunteer to serve your country," Rumsfeld added. "We thank you for it, and you should know in your heart that America supports you."

The secretary's tribute comes on the heels of a popular commercial that aired during the Feb. 6 Super Bowl game. The Anheuser-Busch-sponsored ad showed a group of servicemembers walking through an airport terminal. As they proceeded, people stood and started applauding them first one, then a few, till there was a groundswell of heartfelt clapping.

Viewers could easily tell by the reactions on servicemembers' faces that America supports them. And that commercial was near the top of Super Bowl XXXIX favorites, according to pollsters on the public pulse.

The America Supports You program kicked off in November to showcase the many activities taking place across the United States in support of the troops. The campaign Web site, which highlights organizations and individuals coordinating local and national support efforts, has logged more than 1 million "hits."

Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communications and public liaison, said that while the Defense Department knew many of these activities existed, the site has become a useful tool in "helping to link people and programs, and more importantly, to share these stories of support with the people who need to hear them most -- the men and women serving overseas."

Support from the American people has been "overwhelming," Barber said, and feedback from the troops, "tremendous."

"Thanks to one and all for your tremendous support, spirit and prayers," wrote one soldier at Camp Slayer, Iraq, on the Web site. "We couldn't do what we do without everyone behind us. God bless you all, and God bless America."

"It really feels great to know that we are not alone here on the battlefield," wrote another soldier in Baghdad. "All the soldiers overseas really appreciate the kind gestures that you all share in your hearts, and taking the time out of your busy schedules to show all of your loving support for us who defend this great nation. Thank you!"

"Thank you, America. There aren't enough words to say how much we appreciate your support," wrote another deployed servicemember. "We will always be your guardians of freedom and your support is always a boost whenever we are serving our great country. Again, I say thank you. Godspeed, and God bless the USA!!!"

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