President Bush Salutes Veterans During Visit To Air Force Museum
(November 15, 2010)
Former President George W. Bush speaks to an audience Nov. 11, 2010, at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. President Bush visited the museum on Veterans Day to honor fallen heroes and members of the armed forces. U.S. Air Force photo
by Al Bright
||Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,
Ohio (11/12/2010 - AFNS)
Former President George W. Bush praised veterans,
active-duty personnel and their families during a
speech at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
Nov. 11, 2010. The 43rd president served as the
keynote speaker for a special Veterans Day tribute
President Bush began by talking about his move from
the White House to his own house in Dallas, where he
lives with his wife Laura, and their dog, Barney. He
then transitioned into the importance of paying
tribute to the children of veterans and active-duty
With regard to his decision to fight the war on
terrorism, President Bush shared the contents of a
letter from a young girl named Nicole Carter.
"She wrote to me saying, 'As much as I don't want my
dad to fight, I'm willing to give him to you. I hope
he doesn't get killed. But if he does get killed, I
know he died for the people in our country.'
"Our country is blessed to have military families and their
children who make sacrifices along with their moms and
dads," he continued. "On this Veterans Day, we pay tribute
to those children."|
President Bush stated that one of the hardest aspects
regarding the war on terrorism was meeting with the families
of those who died while serving their country.
"I wasn't sure how some families would react toward me,"
President Bush said. "Would they hate me? But I felt it was
my responsibility to comfort those who had lost a loved
President Bush also shared a story involving a meeting with
Valerie Chapman, the widow of Tech. Sgt. John Chapman.
During a reconnaissance mission in northeastern Afghanistan,
Sergeant Chapman attacked two enemy bunkers, sacrificing his
life in order to save the lives of his colleagues.
"Valerie told me that John loved the Air Force, having
enlisted when he was 19," President Bush said. "When I saw
his two daughters, my heart broke at the thought of them
growing up without their father.
"As the meeting wrapped up, Valerie handed me a copy of her
husband's memorial pamphlet," he continued. "She told me 'If
anyone ever tells you this (war) is the wrong thing to do,
you look at this.'
"Valerie had written a note on the pamphlet: 'John did his
job, now you do yours,'" President Bush explained. "I
reviewed her words every time I made decisions about the
war. On this Veterans Day, we honor the families of the
President Bush then told a story involving a Jan. 1, 2006,
encounter with Army Sgt. Christian Bagge while both men were
at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. Sergeant Bagge
was a patient, having lost both legs due to injuries from a
roadside bomb while in Iraq.
"Christian told me he used to be a runner and planned to run
again," President Bush said. "I was hoping to boost his
spirits so I told him, 'Call me when you're ready and I will
run with you.'"
Six months later, Sergeant Bagge met the president on the
south lawn of the White House.
"He had two prosthetic legs," President Bush said. "We took
a couple of laps around the jogging track. I marveled at
Christian's strength and spirit. He didn't view himself as a
victim. He was proud of what he had done in Iraq and hoped
his example might inspire others.
"On this Veterans Day, we honor the wounded and hold them in
our prayers," President Bush continued. "Our country owes
them our gratitude and support."
President Bush also spoke about his final trip to
Afghanistan in 2008. While talking with a special forces
unit inside a hangar, President Bush realized many of them
had served multiple tours while attempting to locate
terrorists in the treacherous mountain terrain.
"This was one of the most dangerous missions you could
have," he said. "I shook their hands and told them how
grateful I was for their service."
Later a small group of soldiers from the 75th Ranger
Regiment entered and the platoon leader asked President Bush
if he would participate in a brief ceremony.
"The platoon leader unfurled an American flag from his pouch
and raised his right hand," President Bush said. "Several
men stood opposite and raised their right hands. The platoon
leader delivered the reenlistment oath, which his troops
repeated. I was amazed by the willingness of our troops to
volunteer in the face of danger.
"On this Veterans Day, we honor those still on active-duty
and pledge to support them at all times and in all places
once they become veterans."
He remarked that one of the few things he misses since
leaving office was serving as the commander in chief.
"I hope these stories give you a sense of why, because I got
to meet remarkable people who helped to make our nation
safer," President Bush said. "Our troops gave 25 million
people the chance to live in freedom and their efforts
changed the direction of the Middle East for generations to
President Bush concluded by saying America is a magnificent
country that produces patriots.
"Freedom is beautiful," he said. "For those men and women
who kept or continue to keep freedom's march alive for the
sake of peace, thank you and God bless you."
By John Scaggs|
Air Force Materiel Command Public Affairs
Air Force News
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