Bush Honors Military for Sacrifices in War on Terror
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 5, 2003 President Bush honored the U.S. military for its role in safeguarding freedom at home and providing freedom abroad during a speech at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, yesterday.
The president spent Independence Day in the heartland, and he also marked the 100th year of aviation in the home of the Wright Brothers.
Bush reminded the crowd of military families and guests that America is still at war. "The enemies of America plot against us," he said. "And many of our fellow citizens are still serving and sacrificing and facing danger in distant places. Many military families are separated. Our people in uniform do not have easy duty, and much depends on their success."
The president said that without their sacrifices tyrants would go unopposed, and millions would live at the mercy of terrorists. "With Americans' active involvement in the world, tyrants learn to fear, and terrorists are on the run," he said.
Bush said the U.S. response to the attacks of September 11th proves that the United States is serious about opposing terrorists. "The United States will not stand by and wait for another attack, or trust in the restraint and good intentions of evil men," he said. "We are on the offensive against terrorists and all who support them. We will not permit any terrorist group or outlaw regime to threaten us with weapons of mass murder. We will act whenever it is necessary to protect the lives and the liberty of the American people."
The sacrifices made by today's service men and women continue the tradition of the American military. Bush tied the actions against terrorism to the Revolutionary War. "Every year on this date, we take special pride in the founding generation, the men and women who waged a desperate fight to overcome tyranny and live in freedom", he said.
Today's Americans look back and think the war was foreordained to turn out the way it did, but that was far from the case, he said. "Victory was far from certain, and came at great cost.," he said. "Those brave men and women were certain only of the cause they served: the belief that freedom is the gift of God and the right of all mankind."
Through the Revolution America fought not only against the British, but to become a country. "The land of 13 states and fewer than four million people grew and prospered," he said. "And today, all who live in tyranny and all who yearn for freedom place their hopes in the United States of America."
In Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world, the U.S. military is meeting the threats of the new era, Bush said. Members of all active duty and reserve components "have carried out their missions with all the skill and the honor we expect of them. This nation is grateful to the men and women who wear our nation's uniform."
Bush also remembered those American service members who have died in the war for freedom. We honor each one for their courage and for their sacrifice," he said. "We think of the families who miss them so much. And we are thankful that this nation produces such fine men and women who are willing to defend us all."
Security alone cannot be the goal for America, Bush said. "The Declaration of Independence holds a promise for all mankind," he said. "Because Americans believe that freedom is (an) unalienable right, we value the freedom of every nation. Because we are committed to the God-given worth of every life, we work for human dignity. We protect our friends, and we raised up former enemies to be our friends."
Bush related the story of Marine Master Gunnery Sgt. Guadalupe Denogean. The Gunny served in the Corps for 25 years and was wounded during combat in Iraq. Bush met the Gunny in a hospital in Washington. "When I asked if he had any requests, the Master Gunnery Sergeant had just two: He wanted a promotion for the Colonel who rescued him. And he wanted to be an American citizen," Bush said. "I was there the day that Guadalupe Denogean took the oath of citizenship. From the hospital where he was recovering, this son of Mexico raised his right hand and pledged to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. He had kept that oath for decades before he took it. I'm proud to call him a fellow American.
"To be an American, whether by birth or choice, is a high privilege" the president continued. "As citizens of this good nation, we can all be proud of our heritage and confident in our future. The ideals of July 4th, 1776, still speak to all humanity. And the revolution declared that day goes on. On July the 4th, 2003, we still place our trust in Divine Providence. We still pledge our lives and honor to freedom's defense. And we will always believe that freedom is the hope and the future of every land."