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Bush Signs $79 Billion Wartime Supplemental Budget

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 16, 2003 – President Bush signed a $79 billion wartime supplemental at the White House this morning "to cover the needs directly arising from Operation Iraqi Freedom and the reconstruction of Iraq," he said in St. Louis this afternoon.

"Our military is strong, and our military is ready," Bush said to workers at a Boeing F-18 fighter jet production facility. "And we intend to keep it that way."

He told the workers the successes of the U.S. military "begin right here on the factory floors." Advances in technology and weaponry have led to recent military successes, but "this nation's single greatest asset is the kind of men and women who put on the uniform of the United States," Bush said.

One such young man, Marine Pfc. Adrian Fakes, was a guest at Bush's speech. The president said Fakes, a native of the St. Louis area, had been injured at An Nasiriyah in Iraq and was "anxious to get back to his unit."

A Marine Corps official said Fakes, 21, was a member of the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion of the 2nd Marine Division, from Camp Lejeune, N.C. He was wounded in action March 27.

"He represents the finest of the fine," the president said of the young Marine. He also remembered those who will not be returning to their loved ones. "And these are the men and women our nation will honor forever," Bush said.

"You and I and all the world are witnessing historic days in the cause of freedom," the president said as he ran through a timeline of coalition successes in Iraq.

One month ago, coalition forces stood at the borders of Iraq "with orders to advance hundreds of miles through hostile territory against a ruthless enemy," Bush said. He added that today organized military resistance is past and Iraq's major cities are free.

Two weeks ago, Saddam Hussein's regime "operated a gulag for dissidents and, incredibly enough, a prison for young children," he said. "Now the gates of that prison have been thrown wide open," and such institutions are "out of business."

Bush related that one week ago cities were filled with larger-than-life statues and portraits of Hussein. "They're kind of hard to find today," he said.

And finally, four days ago seven American soldiers were held captive in Iraq as prisoners of war. "Today those brave Americans are with their fellow comrades and are headed home to their loved ones," the president said to hearty applause.

Iraq still poses serious risks to American and coalition forces, but "we'll stay focused," Bush said. "We will press on until our mission is finished and victory is complete."

The world is witnessing "something dramatic and something important" in Iraq, he said. "We're seeing the deep and universal desire of men and women to live in freedom.

"As Americans, this shouldn't surprise us," Bush added. "We believe that no force, no threat can make human beings love tyranny. We believe that the appeal of liberty will overcome any coercive power on Earth."

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