Bush Thanks Troops, Legionnaires

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 10, 2007 - President Bush today praised the troops defending the United States and the veterans who set a powerful example and continue to support them.

Bush traveled to American Legion Post 177 in Fairfax, Va., to recognize the spirit of service and volunteerism he said makes the United States a shining example for the rest of the world. "There's something to be said for a country where people serve something greater than themselves, where people in this era volunteer in the face of danger to defend" it, he said.

The president said it's difficult facing the personal losses the war on terror has inflicted. "We've lost some fantastic young men and women," he said. "And we honor their service and their sacrifice by completing the mission, by helping a generation of Americans grow up in a peaceful world."

Bush said he prays for the families of the fallen troops and recognizes the pain they're enduring. "And it's very important for me to make it clear to them that I believe the sacrifice is necessary to achieve the peace we all long for," he said.

The president thanked the Legionnaires who, like today's troops, sacrificed for the country. They provide inspiration for those in uniform today, he said, and continue to serve through their long tradition of support to the military.

Bush noted that World War I veterans gathered in November 1944 to found the Fairfax post as a way to rally support for those in uniform. "These veterans understood what it meant to be in war, what it meant to be far from home, and they provided necessary support for our troops," he said.

It's a tradition the group continues today, from visiting wounded troops in military hospitals to awarding ROTC scholarships at nearby George Mason University.

Bush also thanked the group for taking the time to send care packages to deployed troops Iraq and Afghanistan "to remind those who wear the uniform that you support them."

These and other efforts the country is making send a solid message of support to troops far from home and the lift they sometimes need, he told them. "It matters," he said.

The American Legion is among myriad groups, corporations and private citizens around the country showing support for the men and women in uniform. These efforts are showcased through the Defense Department's America Supports You program. Launched in November 2004, the program helps directly connect military members to the support of the America people and offers ways the general public can find meaningful ways to support the military community.

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