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Service Members Embody Best of America, Obama Says

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 8, 2011 – The five aircrew members and 25 special operations personnel killed in a Chinook helicopter crash in Afghanistan on Aug. 6 -- and their fellow U.S. service members -- embody the qualities America needs most for its future, President Barack Obama said today.

“What sets us apart is that we've always not just had the capacity, but also the will to act, the determination to shape our future, the willingness in our democracy to work out our differences in a sensible way and to move forward not just for this generation, but for the next generation,” Obama said during a news conference dedicated mostly to the latest downturn in the U.S. economy and the national political stalemates that have accompanied it.

Americans “need to summon that spirit today,” Obama said, adding that he is hopeful for the future because of Americans’ perseverance, courage and “willingness to shoulder the burdens we face together, as one nation.”

“There is no one who embodies the qualities that I mentioned more than the men and women of the United States armed forces,” the president said, evoking those lost on the helicopter.

“Their loss is a stark reminder of the risks that our men and women in uniform take every single day on behalf of their country,” he said. “Day after day, night after night, they carry out missions like this in the face of enemy fire and grave danger.”

Obama noted that Afghan commandos also were killed in the crash, and said that after speaking with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. commanders there, “I know that our troops will continue the hard work of transitioning to a stronger Afghan government and ensuring that Afghanistan is not a safe haven for terrorists.

“We will press on and we will succeed,” the president added.

Reflecting on the lost service members, and all U.S. service members and their families, Obama said, “These men and women put their lives on the line for the values that bind us together as a nation. They come from different places, and their backgrounds and beliefs reflect the rich diversity of America.

“But no matter what differences they might have as individuals, they serve this nation as a team,” he continued. “They meet their responsibilities together. And some of them, like the 30 Americans who were lost this weekend, give their lives for their country.

“Our responsibility is to ensure that their legacy is an America that reflects their courage, their commitment and their sense of common purpose.”


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