Monday, December 11, 2006

Secretary Rumsfeld Says Farewell

Over the weekend, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld paid a surprise visit to Iraq to thank the troops for their dedication, sacrifices and patriotism. Wisely, he did not take a press contingent with him, so his visit and remarks were as they should be - between him and the troops. I found a few articles about his visit at .

As Secretary Rumsfeld met with over 1200 troops, they were able to exchange their warm feelings and respect for one another. When he arrived in Al Asad, he received a standing ovation - filled with Marine OO-RAHs and Army HOOAHs and some Air Force AIRPOWERs. Hundreds lined up for pictures and to offer support to the man who has led them for the past six years. They treated him with the rock-star status he has earned from them.

One Marine said, "It isn't a military problem out here. It's a political problem. No one in this country can challenge us militarily; we'd wipe the floor with them. The Iraqis have to 'cowboy up.'"

A convoy commander at LSA Anaconda said, "This is my second year-long tour. Why am I more patient than someone sitting at home in Fort Livingroom?"

They made it clear that if they have the patience and they haven't lost faith, then the American people shouldn't either.

In his address to the troops, Secretary Rumsfeld passed on some of his observations.

"For the past six years, I have had the opportunity and, I would say, the privilege, to serve with the greatest military on the face of the earth. I leave understanding that the true strength of the United States military is not in Washington, it's not in the Pentagon, it's not in the weapons. It's in the hearts of the men and women who serve. It's your patriotism, it's your professionalism and indeed your determination."

"I wish it were possible for every American to see first hand - even a glimpse - of all you do everyday. The lives you touch and the lives you save."

"I never cease to be amazed at the courage and the resiliency of not only the troops, but of your families as well. You have undergone hardships and endured sacrifices, yet I always leave my meetings with the troops and your families with my feelings lifted - inspired by your hope, your determination and your unfailing good humor."

"...the men and women in uniform believe in what they are doing, they know it is important, they know it's worth the cost and in some cases the tears, and they are convinced they can succeed and that our country can prevail. But only if we don't lose our will."

The Secretary told the troops that history will show that after America was attacked, hundreds of thousands of young men and women stepped forward to wear their nation's uniform. "...talented young people who could have done something else - something easier, something safer, but instead they volunteered to defend out country. You are those men and women. you are the ones who took up the fight against the extremists far from home to prevent them from attacking our families, friends, neighbors and fellow citizens. For your service, your sacrifice and for the professionalism and the dedication you demonstrate every day, you have my profound admiration and my deep and everlasting respect."

"It have been the honor of my life to serve with you, and I will never forget it; I will treasure it always."

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