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America Supports You: Secretary of State Visits Servicemembers on the Links

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

BETHESDA, Md., July 5, 2008 – Instead of participating in rounds of Gulf diplomacy, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spent part of the day here observing a round of golf.

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Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice wrote this message to servicemembers while attending the AT & T National PGA Golf Tournament, July 5, 2008, Bethesda, Md. Rice was one of many people who left postcard messages to troops at a kiosk sponsored by 'America Supports You,' a Defense Department program that highlights citizen support for servicemembers.

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The nation’s top diplomat joined a group of Marines at the AT&T National PGA golf tournament, hosted by Tiger Woods, to watch pro players go toe-to-toe here at Congressional Country Club.

Woods, whose father Earl Woods was an Army special forces soldier for 12 years, has infused the annual event, now in its second year, with tributes to troops. Organizers this year distributed 30,000 free tickets to servicemembers.

“I love coming out to this tournament, and I love the fact that it is doing so much to honor our men and women in uniform,” Rice said. “It’s really a great way to remind ourselves that the people of America really appreciate what our troops do.”

The PGA Tour was one of the first organizations to partner with America Supports You, a Defense Department program that connects citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad. Since then, the Tiger Woods Foundation and AT&T have become supporters of the homefront network.

“This America Supports You movement is just growing and growing, and it ought to grow because everybody serving in uniform is a volunteer,” Rice said, alluding to last week’s anniversary that marked 35 years of America’s all-volunteer military force.

One token of America Supports You today was a kiosk near the golf course entrance, where fans could write notes to deployed troops and drop the letters in a lockbox, the contents of which will be delivered to servicemembers abroad.

Asked what sentiment she would send to troops on the frontlines, Rice delivered a message of gratitude.

“I would say, ‘Thank you for serving this country, and thank you for serving this great cause,’” she said. “And thank you for remembering that America is fortunate – our independence was won more than 200 years ago – but that there are countries and people all over this globe that are still struggling for freedom.

“And whenever America has stood on the side of freedom,” she continued, “America has stood on the side of right.”

Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communications and public liaison, and the architect of America Supports You, said the secretary’s visit at the event helps demonstrate the nation’s backing of American servicemembers.

“It’s great when somebody like Dr. Rice makes the time … to not only show support the troops, but to AT&T and the Tiger Woods Foundation,” Barber said, calling the overall teamwork the “perfect partnership.”

Woods and his father established the Tiger Woods foundation in 1996 with the mission of young people achieve thier dreams through community-based programs, according to the foundation’s Web site. To date, the foundation has helped more than 10 million children.

Marine Col. Dave Lapan, the acting director of Marine Corps Public Affairs and one of the Marines to spend time today with Rice, said the tournament celebrates both deployed troops and those at home.

“A lot of us are here today because we can be, [while] our brothers are serving overseas in difficult places [and] they can’t be,” he said. “So it honors not just us, but all of us.”

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Condoleezza Rice
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