Obama: Servicemembers Prove America's Best Days Lie Ahead
(December 4, 2010)
|WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2010 – The bravery, resolve, expertise
and commitment of American servicemembers proves that
America's best days lie ahead, President Barack Obama said
at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan today.|
President Barack Obama holds a banner while
visiting with U.S. troops at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, Dec.
3, 2010. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
Obama thanked American servicemembers and civilians for their sacrifices during
a visit to the headquarters of Regional Command East. The command, built around
the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division, is responsible for some of the toughest
territory in Afghanistan.
Obama arrived at Bagram and met with Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commander
of NATO's International Security Assistance Force, and U.S. Ambassador to
Afghanistan Karl W. Eikenberry. The president visited the Bagram hospital and
awarded five Purple Heart medals to wounded servicemembers there. He then met
with a platoon of 101st Airborne troopers who lost six soldiers Nov. 29 when an
Afghan Border Police trainee opened fire on them.
Obama spoke to more than 3,500 servicemembers in a hangar at
the base. He thanked them for their service and said they
are part of an unbroken line of Americans “who have given up
your comfort, your ease, your convenience, for America's
The president traced the sacrifices of previous generations
of Americans who'd also found themselves serving in war
during a season of peace.
“They did it for the same reason that all of you do,” Obama
said. “Because the freedom and the liberty that we treasure,
that's not simply a birthright. It has to be earned by the
sacrifices of generations -- generations of patriots, men
and women, who step forward and say, ‘Send me.'”
A year ago, the president ordered a surge of 30,000 more
American troops into Afghanistan. Some 95,000 U.S.
servicemembers and thousands of American civilians now serve
“Thanks to your service, we are making important progress,”
the president said. “You are protecting your country. You
are achieving your objectives. You will succeed in your
The NATO effort has halted the Taliban's momentum in
Afghanistan, the president said, as NATO and Afghan
government forces have reclaimed and held large swaths of
the nation. “You're going on the offense, tired of playing
defense, targeting their leaders, pushing them out of their
strongholds,” he said.
Obama told the servicemembers and civilians they can be
proud that because of their efforts and sacrifices,
Afghanistan today has a more hopeful future.
Progress is slow, the president acknowledged, and has come
at a high price.
“So many of you have stood before the solemn battle cross -–
the display of boots, a rifle, a helmet -– and said goodbye
to a fallen comrade,” Obama said. “This year alone, nearly a
hundred members of the 101st have given their last full
measure of devotion. There are few days when I don't sign a
letter to a military family expressing our nation's
gratitude and grief at their profound sacrifice.”
Obama said the servicemembers in America's military come
from every conceivable background and unite to serve a
greater cause. “Through your service, you demonstrate the
content of the American character,” he said. “Some people
ask whether America's best days lie ahead or whether our
greatness stretches back behind us in the stories of those
who've gone before.
“When I look out at all of you, I know the answer to that.
You give me hope,” he continued. “You give me inspiration.
Your resolve shows that Americans will never succumb to
fear. Your selfless service shows who we are, who we always
will be, united as one people and united as one nation, for
you embody and stand up for the values that make us what we
are as a people.”
He said the United States of America is not defined by
borders, but by a common creed eloquently stated in the
Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be
self-evident: that all men are created equal, that we are
endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, that
among these are the right to life and liberty and the
pursuit of happiness.”
That creed, Obama told the servicemembers, is what Americans
have fought for through history and are fighting for in
“And that belief is more powerful than any adversary,” he
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
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