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President Bush Commemorates Military Spouse Day and Presents

更新时间:2009-08-20    来源/发布:www.en369.cn    作者/编辑:admin

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Please be seated. Welcome to the White House. Jeanine, thank you very much for kicking off with an important event here in the White House. Today, we honor six outstanding Americans who represent the very best of what volunteering means, and we honor the achievements of military spouses all across the nation. You cannot be a nation with a volunteer army unless you honor the military families, and that's what we're doing today. (Applause.)

I like to tell people that the strength of this nation is not our military -- although we intend to keep it strong. The strength of the nation is the fact that we've got compassionate, decent, honorable citizens who hear a call to love a neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself. And that's what we're here to honor.

Each of you is part of a legacy of service that harkens back to our country's earliest days. When Martha Washington -- the husband [sic] of the first George W. -- (laughter) -- organized sick wards for wounded soldiers and made visits to battlefields to boost the morale of the troops, she volunteered for a cause bigger than herself.

Through many conflicts, America's war fighters have counted on their spouses for love and support. Our communities have depended on your energy and your leadership. Our nation has benefited from our -- the sacrifices of our military families. Today, I've asked you to come so I can thank you on behalf of all the military families for your noble and needed service to the United States of America.

Not only am I saying it, but we've got some pretty distinguished group of folks who want to say the same thing. I will speak on their behalf, you'll be happy to hear: Secretary Bob Gates, Secretary of the Defense; Senator John Warner, Senator Craig Thomas, and Senator Mike Enzi; Congressman Chet Edwards -- who happens to be President George W. Bush's Congressman from Central Texas; and Congressman Bob Filner have joined us to pay tribute to our military spouses, and I'm honored you all are here.

I also appreciate our military leadership who have joined us today. I can't think, by the way, of many times here in the East Room of the White House that the Joint Chiefs have come to pay tribute. I really can't. We have met before -- we meet quite often, as a matter of fact -- but never in a setting where we're paying tribute to people such as yourself.

Before I begin with our military leadership, I do want to thank Pete Geren, Acting Secretary of the Army -- hopefully, permanent Secretary of the Army as soon as the Senate moves his nomination. Pete, thank you for coming.

Anyway, I do want to introduce General Pete Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his wife, Lynne; Admiral Mike Mullen, Chief of Naval Operations, and his wife, Deborah; General Jim Conway, Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, and his wife, Annette; General George Casey, Chief of Staff of the United States Army, and his wife, Sheila. We appreciate you all coming.

I'm also proud that Mary Jo Meyers, the wife of General Richard Meyers, retired, United States Air Force, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, is with us. And I appreciate Suzy Nicholson -- Suzanne Nicholson, wife of Secretary Jim Nicholson, who is the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Thank you all for joining us. You honor us with your presence. (Applause.)

Pretty soon, we'll hear more about the President's Volunteer Service Award recipients. But I do want to thank your families for joining us. I thank members of the Armed Forces who have joined us today. I can't think of a more noble cause than for people to volunteer to protect our country in the face of grave danger. And it is a -- I marvel at how fantastic our military is. And the reason why it's good is not only because we're modern and well trained, but we've got such wonderful people who wear the uniform. And we thank you for serving, and I appreciate your families who have joined us, as well.

You know better than anyone that military service is a family commitment. As one wife in this audience recently noted, military spouses do not raise their right hands and take an oath of enlistment. Yet, their service begins as soon as they say two words: "I do." (Laughter.)

Military spouses enter into a life filled with uncommon challenges. One of the award recipients, Linda Port, has been a military spouse for nearly 21 years. Over that period, she has moved into and out of 17 different houses -- she has enrolled her children in nine different school districts. I see some heads that are nodding in recognition of what that means. This kind of life makes it hard to lay down roots, which is why it's so important that military families find strength and stability in each other.

Several of the spouses we honor today have made it their mission to build those needed networks of support. Linda worked as an advocate for 1,200 sailors and their spouses, so they could stay in contact during deployments. Michele Langford runs an association that works to unite Coast Guard spouses in her community. Cindy Beerky co-chairs the Patriot Family Readiness Group, which provides information and resources to approximately 500 military families. These initiatives are making a difference. They are improving lives. And we're all here to thank you for the care and commitment you have shown for others.

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