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Speech


Town Hall Meeting

Remarks as Delivered by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Al Kharj, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Rumsfeld:  Thank you very much.

General Waters, thank you so much for those kind words.  General Moseley, Mr. Ambassador, and troops.  The men and women of the U.S. armed forces, the coalition partners that are here from, as I understand it, the United Kingdom and Australia.  I thank you each.  I think probably the most fun I have as secretary of defense is being able to look all of you in the eye and tell you how much you're appreciated, how much we value what you do, and how proud the American people are of you.

What you have accomplished for the Iraqi people, for this region, and indeed for the world is truly remarkable.

Think about it.  Six weeks ago the Iraqi people lived in fear and desperation.  The freedoms that we all enjoy in our countries for them were nothing but a distant dream.  Death squads roamed their streets.  Innocent civilians were beheaded in public squares, tortured in prisons.  The regime denied its people food and medicine to build weapons to threaten the world.  And today, just six weeks later the regime is no longer in power, the prisons are empty, executions in public squares have stopped, the statues of Saddam Hussein have been pulled down -- wasn't that a sight?

The terrorists are on the run.  Senior leaders of the deposed regime are being rounded up every day.  And most important, the Iraqi people are free.

That is a remarkable transformation.  And what made it possible is the same thing that has made success possible in every other war.  The courage, the determination, and the dedication of the men and women in uniform from our coalition countries.

All volunteers.  People who stepped forward and volunteered to put their lives at risk to defend our freedom.

Each of you here today can take enormous pride in what's been accomplished.  The skill with which you planned it, the tenacity with which you fought it, and the humanity with which you prosecuted it.

You have much to be proud of, but as you all know our work is not over.  We are certainly grateful to all of you for your efforts.  But we're also grateful for your families as well.

Let me close by just saying a word about the families.  It can often be harder to be the one left behind than the one who's leaving.  Especially when a loved one is leaving for a conflict.

In wartime military families endure extended periods of separation, not knowing in many instances where their loved ones are, what they're doing, whether they're safe, or indeed whether they'll come home.  Those burdens on each of your families has carried during the course of this war, and they've carried those burdens for our country, for the cause of freedom.

So we are grateful and proud of their service as well as your service.  Let there be no doubt.

So I thank you for all you've done and all you do for our country.  I thank your families and your loved ones.  And may God bless each of you and all of them.

Thank you very much.

 

For a complete transcript, including questions and answers, please visit:

http://www.defense.gov/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=2541

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