President Bush; Secretary [of State Colin] Powell; [President of National Defense University Vice] Admiral [Paul] Gaffney, my thanks to you and National Defense University for your hospitality today; members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; distinguished guests; platform guests; ladies and gentlemen; and, most particularly, the members of the Armed Forces gathered here today.
Our country recognizes that the men and women of the Armed Forces voluntarily put their lives at risk so that we may live at peace. We recognize that and we thank you for seeking out this truly noble calling, which indeed it is, by any standard.
Just over 100 days ago, in his Inaugural Address, President Bush spoke about qualities that compel citizens to such a noble calling. He talked about civility, courage, and character, reminders that the strength that matters most is not the strength of arms, but the strength of character--character expressed in service to something larger than ourselves. If that is our ultimate safeguard, then we indeed are a nation blessed. One cannot look upon the proud representatives of the Armed Forces, and not be powerfully reminded that the spirit of service and sacrifice is alive in this country.
It is with your service and your sacrifice in mind that the President has said that we must "build our defenses beyond challenge, lest weakness invite challenge." He understands that in the new world that confronts us, we have an obligation to dissuade rash and reckless aggressors from taking or threatening actions that might endanger the safety and security of the American people, and our friends and our allies. In that context, the President has said that "America's development of a missile defense is a search for security, not a search for advantage."
And so, it is an honor for me to present the man committed to leading us to greater security. He has worn the uniform of our country, and he captured our guiding truth when he declared that "peace is not ordained, it is earned. It is not a harbor where we rest, it is a voyage we must chart." Men and women of the Armed Forces, ladies and gentlemen, it is a privilege to introduce our Commander in Chief, President George W. Bush.