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President Celebrates Easter With Families at Fort Hood

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 11, 2004 – President and Mrs. Bush visited Fort Hood, Texas, today to observe Easter with the families of deployed soldiers.

"It's our honor to have celebrated this holy day with family members whose loved one is in Iraq," the president said in a brief meeting with reporters. "Fort Hood has made a mighty contribution to freedom in Iraq and to security for the country. I value my time with the family members and those who sacrifice on behalf of the country."

The president acknowledged that the spike in violence over the last week in Iraq has been difficult, but he said a free Iraq will make for a safer world. "It was a tough week last week, and my prayers and thoughts are with those who paid the ultimate price for our security," the president said. "A free Iraq will make the world more peaceful. A free Iraq is going to change the world."

Bush said he has spoken with Army Gen. John Abizaid twice in recent days, and that the U.S. Central Command chief knows he can ask for more manpower if he needs it. "He believes, like I believe, that this violence we've seen is part of a few people trying to stop progress toward democracy," Bush said.

The United States is tough, but open-minded in its approach in Iraq, the president said. "Members of the (Iraqi) Governing Council wanted a chance to move into Fallujah and see if they could bring some order to the gangs and violence," he said. "And as you can tell, our military is giving them a chance to do so." Coalition forces suspended offensive operations in Fallujah April 9 to allow Iraqi leaders to seek a political solution that would restore legitimate Iraqi authority in the city.

"I know what we're doing in Iraq is right," Bush said. "It's right for long- term peace. It's right for the security of our country. And it's hard work."

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Gen. John Abizaid

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Fort Hood, Texas
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