President Bush's Latest Opportunity to Call on Americans to Serve
Here are excerpts from what President Bush said at a U.S. Army Basic Combat Training Graduation Ceremony, November 2, 2007, at Fort Jackson, South Carolina:
1:25 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Colonel, thank you very much. I'm pleased to be here with you and to have a chance to say: "Hoo-ah!"
THE PRESIDENT: I'm here to congratulate those of you who have completed your basic training. I thank -- thanks to your families for supporting these fine Americans. I want to thank those who have worked hard to train you. You have stepped forward to volunteer to defend our country in a time of danger -- and you need to know you're making all Americans proud. (Applause.)
[ . . . ]
You are part of a storied military tradition. Over the last century, Fort Jackson has prepared countless young Americans to defend our country. Soldiers marched from these fields to battle fascists and dictators and terrorists. Those soldiers brought freedom to millions of people they never knew. And because of their efforts, America is stronger, America is safer and America is free. (Applause.)
Once again, our nation calls on brave Americans to confront our enemies and bring peace and security to millions -- and you're answering that call. I thank you for your courage. I thank you for making the noble decision to put on the uniform and to defend the United States of America in a time of war. (Applause.)
Many of you will deploy to Iraq. You will help carry out a new strategy that, over the past few months, has taken the initiative from the enemy and driven them from key strongholds. Today I want to share with you, and the American people, some of the progress we are making in Iraq -- what we can expect in the months ahead. The fight for Iraq is critical to the security of the American people -- and with the skill and valor of the soldiers standing before me, standing beside me and standing behind me; it is a fight that we will win. (Applause.)
[ . . . ] I thank all those who wear the uniform. It's incredible to be the Commander-in-Chief of a nation that has produced such bravery and such decency and such compassion. We have the great -- the greatest military on the face of the earth, and we intend to keep it that way. (Applause.)
It is a great day of celebration and I thank you for letting me come to celebrate with you. I know the moms and dads and family members are so proud of those who will be parading in front of us here in a minute. But it's also a time of war for our country. I wish I did not have to report that, but it's the truth; the way it is in this world in which we live. It's a moment when these soldiers prepare to assume responsibility for the security of our country and the safety of the free world.
[ . . . ]
We're making progress [in Iraq], and many have contributed to the successes. And foremost among them are the men and women of the United States Army. Once again, American soldiers have shown the world why our military is the finest fighting force on earth. And now that legacy falls to the proud graduates today. Earlier generations of soldiers from Fort Jackson made their way to Europe and liberated a continent from tyranny. Today a new generation is following in their noble tradition. And one day people will speak of your achievements in Baqubah and Baghdad the way we now speak of Normandy and the Bulge.
This post was named for a great American President. He served his country in two major conflicts, including the American Revolution at the age of 13. Andrew Jackson was renowned for his courage -- and that courage lives on at the base that bears his name. Troops from Fort Jackson have served with honor and distinction in today's war on terror -- and some have not lived to make the journey home. And today we honor their sacrifices. We pray for their families. We remember what they fought for -- and we pledge to finish the job. (Applause.)
And you are the ones who will carry on their work. Americans are counting on you -- and their confidence is well placed. You've trained hard. You've prepared for battle. And when you take up your missions, you will give a new meaning to the slogan chanted by thousands of soldiers on this base in many wars and in many era: "Victory starts here."
May God bless you all, and my God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
END 1:45 P.M. EDT
What an opportunity.
What an opportunity to speak to the American people, not just the families and friends of new soldiers graduating Basic Combat Training, to urge those eligible to serve, who agree with what President Bush is saying about Iraq, to look within themselves to find the courage to volunteer.
What an opportunity.