Bush Thanks W.Va. Guard, Compares Terror Struggle to Revolutionary War
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 5, 2007 President Bush hailed members of the West Virginia Air National Guard yesterday and reminded them that they and their fellow servicemembers, like the patriots who celebrated the first Independence Day, are demonstrating fortitude during a critical conflict.
President Bush offers remarks during a Fourth of July visit with members of the West Virginia Air National Guard’s 167th Airlift Wing and their family members in Martinsburg, W.Va., July 4, 2007. Bush thanked all the operational units of the West Virginia National Guard for their service. White House photo by Chris Greenberg
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“Our first Independence Day celebration took place in the midst of a war, a bloody and difficult struggle that would not end for six more years before America finally secured her freedom,” the president told members of the 167th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg, W.Va.
The outcome of that conflict, like the current war on terror, was far from certain at the time, he said, yet America’s forefathers committed themselves to the cause and persevered to ensure victory.
Bush called Independence Day an important time for the country to thank its founders and the citizen-soldiers of the Continental Army who fought for liberty and independence.
“You’re the successors of those brave men,” the president told the West Virginia Guardsmen. “Those who wear the uniform are the successors of those who dropped their pitchforks and picked up their muskets to fight for liberty.”
And like those early patriots, today’s servicemembers are fighting a new and unprecedented war, he said. “In this war, the weapons have changed, and so have our enemies,” he said. “But one thing remains the same: the men and women of the Guard stand ready to put on the uniform and fight for freedom.”
These troops are showing the same type of courage in their fight against radicals and extremists that their forefathers showed to win independence, Bush said.
He noted that every operational unit in the West Virginia National Guard has deployed since Sept. 11, 2001, and that some are serving their second or third deployments. In fact, one 167th Airlift Wing member, Master Sgt. Richard Howland, has volunteered to go to Baghdad in September for his eighth deployment.
“Your service is needed,” Bush told the Guardsmen. “We need for people to volunteer to defend America, because in this war, we face dangerous enemies who have attacked us here at home.”
He acknowledged that the passage of time since the terror attacks has convinced some people that the dangers they faced on Sept. 11 no longer exist. “But that’s not how I see it, and that’s not how many of you see it,” he said. “These people want to strike us again.”
The best way to prevent that, Bush said, is to stay on the offensive. “And that’s exactly what we’ve been doing against these radicals and extremists,” he said. “It’s best that we take the fight to where the enemy lives, so we don’t have to face them where we live.”
Bush said he recognizes it’s a tough fight that will require “more patience, more courage and more sacrifice.”
“But I wouldn’t have asked those troops to go into harm’s way if the fight was not essential to the security of the United States of America,” he said.
Al Qaeda hasn’t given up its objectives, so the United States and its coalition partners can’t give up their efforts either, he said.
Bush recognized servicemembers who have died in this cause and thanked all military members and their families for the sacrifices they continue to make.
“Because of the service of our military men and women, because our nation has got a military full of the bravest and most decent people that I’ve ever met, America remains a beacon of hope for all the world,” he said.
“We’re doing the hard work now so generations of American kids can grow up in peace,” he said. “It’s necessary work, it’s important work, and I thank you for your sacrifices.”