Bush Thanks Fort Hood Troops, Families for War Sacrifices
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 12, 2005 President Bush today thanked Fort Hood troops and families for their labors and sacrifices during the war against terrorism.
Two years ago, Bush noted, U.S. troops and coalition forces liberated Iraq from the tyrannical rule of former dictator Saddam Hussein, now languishing in jail awaiting trial for his crimes.
Major Fort Hood army units -- the 4th Infantry and 1st Cavalry divisions and the 13th Corps Support Command - have seen action in Iraq. The president noted that many present had recently returned from Iraq.
"Welcome home and thank you for a job well-done," he said to shouts of "Hoo-ah" from the soldiers. "Others are preparing to head out this fall -- some for a second tour of duty.
"Whether you're coming or going, you are making an enormous difference for the security of our nation and for the peace of the world. I want to thank you for defending your fellow citizens. I want to thank you for extending liberty to millions. And I want to thank you for making America proud.
Bush also had words for family members. "I want to thank you for your sacrifices in the war on terror," he said. "It isn't easy being the one left behind when a loved one goes to war.
"You have a wonderful community here at Fort Hood. I thank you for the support you have given to each other. By loving and supporting a soldier, you are also serving our nation. Americans are grateful for your sacrifice and your service -- and so is your commander in chief.
He said the nation "will fulfill its duty by providing (wounded servicemembers) the best medical care possible."
"Still others have given their lives in this struggle -- your friends, your comrades," Bush noted. "We honor their memory. We lift them up in prayer. Their sacrifice will always be remembered by a grateful nation. We can live as free people because men and women like you have stepped forward and have volunteered to serve."
The president pointed out that April 9, the day coalition forces liberated the Iraqi capital of Baghdad was one "millions of Iraqis and Americans ... will never forget."
"The toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad will be recorded, alongside the fall of the Berlin Wall, as one of the great moments in the history of liberty," Bush said.
He noted that now "terrorists have made Iraq a central front in the war on terror." The Iraq operation, which is currently supported by 140,000 U.S. troops, is worth the effort and sacrifice, Bush told the assembled troops, because the United States is defeating terrorists in Iraq "where they live, so we do not have to face them where we live."
And thanks to ongoing U.S., coalition and Iraqi military operations against insurgents the Iraqi people are living better lives as "freedom is taking root in Iraq," Bush declared.
Success in Iraq, he noted, will make America safer "for us and future generations."
Bush said the United States is now assisting Iraqis in establishing "a peaceful and representative government that protects the rights of all citizens." After that, he said, "our military forces will leave."
Iraqis "have laid the foundations of a free society," Bush observed, that now boosts "hundreds of independent newspapers and dozens of political parties and associations."
Iraqi school children today are learning how to read and write, he noted, "instead of the propaganda of Saddam Hussein."
Since the fall of Hussein, Bush stated, Iraqis also benefit from an improved economic future with a new currency, an independent central bank, new laws that encourage foreign investment in Iraq, and thousands of small businesses that were established since Baghdad was liberated on April 9, 2003.
The new entrepreneurial spirit spreading across Iraq, he predicted, "will create jobs and opportunity for millions" of Iraqis in the months and years ahead.
Iraqis are establishing a society built upon the rule of law, Bush said. Courts are dispensing justice across Iraq, he said, while hundreds of Iraqi judges are wielding gavels after being trained in Bahrain, Italy, Jordan, the Czech Republic and Great Britain.
And a special Iraqi tribunal court has been established, he noted, that will try former senior Hussein-regime officials, including Saddam Hussein.
Bush observed that Hussein, who ran a police state that routinely dispensed mayhem and murder instead of justice, "will get the trial that he did not afford his fellow citizens when he was in power."
Today, Iraq is restoring the rule of law, Bush said, while setting an "example for people across the Middle East."
The president told the troops that their work is not yet over. "Freedom still faces dangerous adversaries," he said. "Terrorists still want to attack our people. But they're losing. These terrorists are losing the struggle because they're under constant pressure from our armed forces, and they will remain under constant pressure from our armed forces. And they are losing the struggle because they are on the wrong side of history.
"I came here today to thank you in person for your courageous choice of service," Bush said. "You're making America proud. You're making America free. And you're making the world more peaceful.
"I want to thank you for all you've done for our great nation. May God bless you and your families. And may God continue to bless this great land of liberty, the United States of America," he concluded.