Bush marks Veterans Day in Texas; VP at Arlington
WACO, Texas (AP) — Marking his fifth Veterans Day since the invasion of Iraq, President Bush honored U.S. troops past and present at a tearful ceremony Sunday for four Texans who died there.
The White House had said Bush was going to also use his Veterans Day speech to scold Congress for not sending him a veterans spending bill.
But the president finished without any reference to the bill or Congress.
“In their sorrow, these families need to know — and families all across our nation of the fallen — need to know that your loved ones served a cause that is good and just and noble,” Bush said. “And as their commander in chief, I make you this promise: Their sacrifice will not be in vain.”
Bush, who is scheduled to return to the White House today, was in Texas for the holiday, following his two-day meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at his ranch in Crawford.
He went to American Legion Post 121, which was honoring four Texas men who were among the more than 3,860 members of the U.S. military who have died in Iraq since 2003. They were Army Spc. Javier Antonio Villanueva of Bellmead, Army Spc. Jeffrey Paul Shaffer of West, Marine Lance Cpl. Johnny Ray Strong of Waco and Marine Gunnery Sgt. John David Fry of Lorena.
Post Commander Clayton Hueske admitted being nervous, but said he was proud to have Bush in attendance at the emotional event, which ended with the audience joining a soloist in singing “God Bless America.”
A bugler played taps. Post officials offered comforting words to the fallen troops’ families and presented them with honorary plaques and flags that have flown over the state capitol.
“These men and women saw the future of the terrorists’ intent for our country and they said with clear voices, ’Not on my watch,”’ Bush said of the troops.
“America is blessed to have such brave defenders. They are tomorrow’s veterans and they are bringing pride to our country. Their service is noble and it is necessary,” he said. “The enemies who attacked us six years ago want to strike our country again, and next time they hope to kill Americans on a scale that will make 9/11 pale by comparison.”
Bush has spent four of the past six Veterans Days at Arlington National Cemetery. This year, Vice President Dick Cheney went to Arlington to pay tribute to Iraq veterans.
In a 10-minute speech, Cheney said soldiers from World War I to “the current fight against terrorism” have served their country valiantly and “kept us free at the land we call home.”
Published in The Messsenger 11.12.07
Bush, Veterans Day