President Bush Thanks Our Troops!
President Bush spoke at Berkeley Plantation in Charles City, Virginia, on Monday, November 19:
12:24 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Thanks very much. Thanks for the warm welcome. I am proud to be back in the great state of Virginia. I particularly appreciate the chance to visit Berkeley Plantation. I thank the good people who care for this historic treasure. Over the years, Presidents have visited Berkeley. [ . . . ]
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The story of Berkeley reminds us that we live in a nation dedicated to liberty. In 1776, Berkeley's owner, Benjamin Harrison, became one of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. In the Declaration, we see the founders' great hope for our country, their conviction that we're all created equal, with the God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
At times, America has fallen short of these ideals. We remember that the expansion of our country came at a terrible cost to Native American tribes. We remember that many people came to the New World in chains rather than by choice. For many years, slaves were held against their will here at Berkeley and other plantations -- and their bondage is a shameful chapter in our nation's history.
Today, we're grateful to live in a more perfect union. Yet our society still faces divisions that hold us back. These divisions have roots in the bitter experiences of our past -- and have no place in America's future. (Applause.) The work of realizing the ideals of our founding continues. And we must not rest until the promise of America is real for all our citizens.
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The story of Berkeley reminds us to honor those who have sacrificed in the cause of freedom. During the Civil War, Union forces at Berkeley adopted a nightly bugle call that has echoed throughout the ages. The bugle call has become known as "Taps." And when we hear it play, we remember that the freedoms we enjoyed have come at a heavy price.
Today, the men and women of the United States Armed Forces are taking risks for our freedom. They're fighting on the front lines of the war on terror, the war against extremists and radicals who would do us more harm. Many of them will spend Thanksgiving far from the comforts of home. And so we thank them for their service and sacrifice. We keep their families and loved ones in our prayers. We pray for the families who lost a loved one in this fight against the extremists and radicals, and we vow that their sacrifice will not be in vain. (Applause.)
This Thanksgiving, we pay tribute to all Americans who serve a cause larger than themselves. We are thankful for the police officers who patrol our streets. We're thankful for the firefighters who protect our homes and property. [ . . . ]
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These stories remind us that our nation's greatest strength is the decency and compassion of our people. As we count our many blessings, I encourage all Americans to show their thanks by giving back. [ . . . ] And there are many ways to spread hope this holiday -- volunteer in a shelter, mentor a child, help an elderly neighbor, say thanks to one who wears our nation's uniform. (Applause.)
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I wish you all a safe and happy Thanksgiving. I offer Thanksgiving greetings to every American citizen. May God bless you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
END 12:40 P.M. EST
President Bush has certainly been talking about our servicemembers a lot lately, but it all seems a bit distant, as if military personnel are "other people" and not anyone he personally knows and cares about. Either that, or he needs new speechwriters, preferably with real human experiences who have known some of life's major challenges and disappointments.
If President Bush could only find the strength not only to call upon real Americans to volunteer for military service in the Global War on Terror even if they plan other careers later in life, but also to set a good example for all of us by starting with, say, his future son-in-law Henry Hager, Our President would greatly enhance his legacy and place in our history.