Let me practice it. Hooah! (Reply: Hooah!) That’s pretty good.
Jack [General John Keane, Acting Chief of Staff of the Army] thank you. It’s an honor to be here, and it’s a real privilege to serve with this great Department and with this great Army. If you do the mathematics, we’re celebrating the 228th birthday. I majored in math, so I can figure it out. That means you were born in 1775, in June.
That means this great Army is even older than this great country. I point that out because without this Army we wouldn’t have this country. General George Washington said that the brave heroes that sacrificed so much to give us our independence fought, not for themselves alone, but as he put it, for the fate of unborn millions who depended on the courage and conduct of this Army. And we depended on it for more than two centuries. For two centuries this Army has helped to keep this country whole, has fought to keep it free, has helped us to build a world in which freedom has more and more room, and in which free countries like ours can be safer.
But on September 11th we had a rude reminder that safer doesn’t mean safe—that there are still enemies of freedom out there, and that they’re able to attack even right here in the Pentagon, where brave men and women wearing the uniform of the U.S. Army died tragic and heroic deaths that day, and many others suffered life-enduring injuries.
But the terrorists made a huge strategic mistake. They aroused the fury of this country. And, as other enemies have learned in the past, once aroused, this country does not relent. And we have fought back, and this Army has fought back, and this Army has played a vital role in the brilliant military victories in Afghanistan and in Iraq. And Tommy [General Tommy Franks, Commander of the U.S. Central Command], if you’ll forgive me, I would like to ask you once again to stand and take a bow because this is – (Applause) this is one extraordinary general, extraordinary strategist, extraordinary human being. And I think you can all be proud that he wears the uniform of the United States Army. But he would scold me if I didn’t say that he knows better than anyone that he didn’t win this victory. It was won by brave young men and women who risk their lives and their limbs on the ground and who put the plan together and fought the fight and deserve the credit. But we recognize him both as a person and as somebody who symbolizes that great organization.
But the fight against terror goes on. It goes on today even in Iraq and Afghanistan where brave soldiers are risking their lives to capture and kill terrorists. The fight against terror is going to be a long fight. But have no doubt about it. We will win. (Applause).
Two hundred and twenty-eight years is a long time, and the soldiers of that first Army wouldn’t even recognize the Army of today, much less the Marine Corps and the Air Force and Coast Guard and the Navy. It would be a completely different world to them.
The Army has changed remarkably. In fact, even soldiers of 10 or 20 years ago marvel at the speed of today’s Army, at the lethality of today’s Army, at jointness of today’s Army. This is, as has been said, the best Army that the world has ever known. But have no doubt about it. It is not the best Army the world will ever know. The Army of 10 years from now will be as astonishing to those of you serving today as you are to your predecessors.
This Army is changing and moving forward. We are ahead of our enemies. We will beat our enemies because we will keep getting better and better. So let me ask you to join me in wishing this great Army not only happy 228th Birthday but, another 228 more successful, progressing, advancing years, and another great big Hooah. (Reply: Hooah!)
Thank you. (Applause.)