Obama Lauds Soldier Ride Participants
By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 5, 2011 As 30 wounded warriors on bicycles gathered on the White House’s South Lawn yesterday, President Barack Obama said their participation in a Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride is a reminder that everyone can do something for the troops.
Soldier Rides began seven years ago when Chris Carney, a civilian who never had served in the military, rode his bicycle more than 5,000 miles to raise money and awareness for the nation’s wounded warriors.
“That’s the difference a single person can make,” Obama said. “Today, there are Soldier Rides all across America, giving our wounded warriors the confidence and support they need to recover.”
Obama told the riders they represent a generation that has written its own extraordinary chapter in the American story and has earned its place among the greatest of generations.
“Our nation has been at war now for nearly 10 years,” he said. “Tour after tour, year after year, you’ve done your duty. You’ve met every challenge, from the deserts of Iraq to the mountains of Afghanistan. You’ve risked everything. And you’ve carried in your hearts the memory of fallen heroes who gave everything.”
The riders carried the extra challenge of coming home from one battle and beginning another one -- the battle to recovery, Obama said.
“[You learned] to stand again. To walk again. To relearn, in some cases, the simple things that are the true pleasures of life -- dancing with your spouse, or holding your children,” he said. “In many ways, this might have been the toughest battle [you’ve] ever fought.”
The president singled out ride participant Nickolas Edinger. “He was serving in Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device blast cost him one of his legs,” Obama said. “But he’s here today as part of his journey to recovery.” Next, he pointed out veteran Corey Kent.
“I met Corey during one of my visits to Walter Reed [Army Medical Center] last year,” Obama said. “And it was my honor to pin a Purple Heart on him. He’s lost both legs. But he’s working hard to recover, and he’s here today, ready to ride.”
Obama told the riders they inspire him.
“You represent the very best in America,” he said. “And in your fight to recover and in the ride that you’re about to begin, we see the values and virtues that make our country great.
“We may take a hit,” he continued. “We may endure great loss. But we are a strong and resilient people. We push on. We persevere. We’re confident in our cause. Like generations of Americans before us, we will emerge stronger than before.”
The president said Americans again witnessed the strength and courage of U.S. troops with the May 1 killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
“Thanks to the courage and precision of our forces, the terrorist who started this war and who took so many innocent lives learned that America does not forget. America will ensure that justice is done,” the president said.
Joined by supporters from all branches of service who turned out for the ride, Obama sounded an air horn and the Soldier Ride began, with three laps around the South Lawn and a crowd cheering them on.
The Soldier Ride initiative provides adaptive cycling opportunities across the country to help wounded warriors restore their physical and emotional well-being. Wounded Warrior Project provides equipment and support to participating injured service members at no cost to them.