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Nation Grateful for Brave Defenders of Liberty, Bush Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 3, 2003 – President Bush said that some of the best Americans have fallen in defense of freedom and liberty. "We mourn every loss. We honor every name. We grieve with every family. And we will always be grateful that liberty has found such brave defenders," he said during a speech in Birmingham, Ala., today.

The president said that a free and peaceful Iraq is in America's best interests. "A free and peaceful Iraq will make it more likely that our children and grandchildren will be able to grow up without the horrors of September the 11th," Bush said. "We'll defeat the terrorists there so we don't have to face them on our own streets."

The day after 16 U.S. soldiers died and 20 were injured in the crash of a CH-47 helicopter after it was reportedly hit by a hand-held surface-to-air missile, the president asked Americans to see the mission through. He said Americans must remain united, patient and determined as operations continue in Iraq.

"The enemy in Iraq believes America will run," Bush said. "That's why they're willing to kill innocent civilians, relief workers, coalition troops. America will never run. America will do what is necessary to make our country more secure."

On the flight to Birmingham, White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters that it is important the coalition maintain the offensive against Baathists and foreign terrorists. He also said it is important the United States accelerate efforts to involve Iraqis in their own security. "We are, as the president said, adjusting to the enemy, to confront these dangers and improve the security situation," McClellan said.

The spokesman said it is important to continue moving forward on Iraqi reconstruction and to spur the moves toward an Iraqi constitution. He said such moves will help improve security in Iraq.

"But, again, these Baathists and foreign terrorists who are in the country seek to spread fear and chaos and they want us to leave," he said. "But we are steadfast in our will and our resolve to see this through. We will prevail in this central front in the war on terror."

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