WASHINGTON — In his second to last radio address, President Bush on Saturday praised U.S. servicemembers for their commitment and sacrifice, and called on the American public to "remain vigilant" in the face of potential threats from terrorists.
The president also noted something he said "almost no one thought possible" — that after more than seven years, there has not been another significant terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
Bush said that he has had no higher honor than serving as commander in chief to those who deployed within weeks of 9/11 to Afghanistan, who deployed multiple times to fight in Iraq, and who made his "troop surge" into Iraq "one of the great successes in American military history."
The full address follows:
Good morning. This week, I gave my official farewell speech to the men and women of America’s Armed Forces in a ceremony at Fort Myer, Va. For the past eight years, I have had no higher honor than serving as the commander in chief of these brave patriots. And when Laura and I depart for Texas later this month, we will take with us many inspiring memories of the valor that we have seen these brave Americans display time and again.
We saw their valor on September the 11th, 2001, in servicemembers rushing into smoke-filled corridors to save their colleagues at the Pentagon, and in planes patrolling the skies above New York City and Washington D.C.
We saw their valor in the days after that attack, when Americans crowded into recruiting centers across our country, raised their hands to serve, and pledged to defend our people and our freedom.
We saw their valor in the forces who deployed to Afghanistan within weeks of 9/11, closed down the terrorist training camps, and drove the Taliban from power.
We saw their valor in the fearless troops who stormed across the Iraqi desert — and destroyed a regime that threatened America.
We saw their valor in battle-tested warriors who signed up for a second, or third, or fourth tour — and made the troop surge in Iraq that I announced two years ago today one of the great successes in American military history.
America’s Armed Forces have liberated more than 50 million people around the world — and made our nation safer. They have taken the fight to the terrorists abroad so that we have not had to face them here at home. And the world has seen something that almost no one thought possible: More than seven years after September the 11th, there has not been another terrorist attack on American soil.
This is no coincidence. In addition to our military, many other Americans have worked tirelessly to ensure our safety in the years since 9/11. Law enforcement officials have worked to secure our country and remained watchful against future attacks. Intelligence analysts have tracked information that allowed us to disrupt terrorist plots before they reached our shores. And homeland security agents have worked to secure our ports, our borders, and our skies.
We owe a debt of gratitude to all of these patriots. Because of their devotion to service, many Americans live their lives without the fear and uncertainty that they felt in the days just after 9/11. This continued safety has been a blessing — but we must never allow it to foster complacency. America still faces sworn enemies intent on striking our nation and our people. And we must remain vigilant for as long as that threat remains.
I know that our men and women in uniform have remained vigilant. These Americans answer the call to defend freedom when it is under attack. They put their lives on the line to defend democracy and keep our country safe. And they inspire a nation with their selflessness and their courage. I am proud to have served as their commander in chief.