Jack On Tuesday, August 3, 2010

This morning the President discussed the great honor he felt to be speaking at the national convention of Disabled American Veterans in Atlanta, Georgia -- one of the great organizations carrying on the values of America's proud military. The occasion was all the more meaningful because yet another momentous turning point in that history is upon us:

Today, your legacy of service is carried on by a new generation of Americans. Some stepped forward in a time of peace, not foreseeing years of combat. Others stepped forward in this time of war, knowing they could be sent into harm’s way. For the past nine years, in Afghanistan and Iraq, they have borne the burdens of war. They, and their families, have faced the greatest test in the history of our all-volunteer force, serving tour after tour, year after year. Through their extraordinary service, they have written their own chapter in the American story. And by any measure, they have earned their place among the greatest of generations.

Now, one of those chapters is nearing an end. As a candidate for President, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end. (Applause.) Shortly after taking office, I announced our new strategy for Iraq and for a transition to full Iraqi responsibility. And I made it clear that by August 31st, 2010, America’s combat mission in Iraq would end. (Applause.) And that is exactly what we are doing -- as promised and on schedule. (Applause.)

Already, we have closed or turned over to Iraq hundreds of bases. We’re moving out millions of pieces of equipment in one of the largest logistics operations that we’ve seen in decades. By the end of this month, we’ll have brought more than 90,000 of our troops home from Iraq since I took office -- more than 90,000 have come home. (Applause.)

The White House has released a fact sheet detailing just how extensive this drawdown has been, and what it will mean for our broader security. It brings toward a close a war that was at the center of passionate debate in America for much of the last decade, including the last election. But as the President pointed out, support for our troops was -- and will continue to be -- a great unifying force:

These men and women from across our country have done more than meet the challenges of this young century. Through their extraordinary courage and confidence and commitment, these troops and veterans have proven themselves as a new generation of American leaders. And while our country has sometimes been divided, they have fought together as one. While other individuals and institutions have shirked responsibility, they have welcomed responsibility. While it was easy to be daunted by overwhelming challenges, the generation that has served in Iraq has overcome every test before them.

And just as Vice President Biden made clear last week, the President spoke to the fact that while we should all salute those who have served -- and who will continue to serve -- our government owes it to them to keep our country's commitment in deeds as well as words. At the very beginning of his remarks, he recounted a visit from DAV's Commander Roberto Barrera:

Now, there’s another visit I won’t forget. I was in the Oval Office expecting a visit from the DAV. And in comes Bobby carrying a baseball bat. (Laughter.) Now, it’s not every day that somebody gets past the Secret Service carrying a baseball bat. (Laughter.) You may have heard about this. It turns out it was a genuine Louisville Slugger -- (applause) -- a thank you for going to bat for our veterans on advanced appropriations.


Post a Comment