President Bush Celebrates Independence Day With West Virginia Air National Guard
167th Airlift Wing
C-5 Maintenance Hangar
Martinsburg, West Virginia
July 4, 2007
9:21 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Thanks for the warm welcome. Happy 4th of July. I'm thrilled to be here in Martinsburg.
(And not in Iraq.)
This is the fourth Independence Day that I have spent in the great state of West Virginia since I've been your President.
I love coming to your state because it's a state full of decent, hardworking, patriotic Americans.
(Not like those screaming, protesting, unpatriotic liberal left-wing kooks who don’t support my policies.)
And I can't think of a better way to celebrate the 4th of July than to spend it with some of what we call the Mountain State's bravest and most dedicated citizens -- the men and women of the West Virginia Air National Guard.
(Most of whom will soon be dedicated fighters in Iraq.)
I am proud to stand with the 167th Airlift Wing.
(Remember, I once flew while I was in the National Guard.)
Laura -- speaking about families, Laura sends her love. She would be with me, but I told her to fire up the grill.
(And light my fire.)
Don't tell her I said that.
I enjoyed reciting the Pledge of Allegiance with some of the children from our military families. I thought they handled their task quite well.
(And when they’re of legal age they can begin handling the task of fighting in Iraq.)
I appreciate Major Dave Reynolds, Chaplain, for giving the blessing.
(As do my skull and bones)
But most importantly, thank you all for coming. Thanks for being here. The 4th of July is a day for celebration and a day for gratitude. Across America, our citizens are going to come together for parades and pyrotechnic displays, and readings from our Declaration of Independence.
(Not the Constitution because it’s just a piece of paper.)
And when we carry on these festivities, it's important you know we're carrying on a grand tradition. This isn't the first time our country has celebrated the 4th of July.
(Or I’m not the Decider.)
Our first Independence Day celebration took place in a midst of a war -- a bloody and difficult struggle that would not end for six more years before America finally secured her freedom.
(Not in the mist of a war like this Iraq war that won’t end for another 600 years.)
We were a small band of freedom-loving patriots taking on the most powerful empire in the world.
(Not radicals and extremists in a civil war, fighting each other and an occupying invader.)
And one of those patriots was the founder of Martinsburg, West Virginia -- Major General Adam Stephen. Of course, it wasn't West Virginia then, but it was Martinsburg.
(I’m not as dumb as I sometimes look.)
Since the attacks of September the 11th, 2001, every operational unit of the West Virginia National Guard has been deployed -- and some are on their second and third deployments.
(Meanwhile, our borders remain unprotected and porous doors for terrorists. And let’s hope that there are no more natural disasters; we’re kind of short on manpower and money. They’re in Iraq.)
One member of the 167th Airlift Wing, Master Sergeant Richard Howland, has deployed seven times since the 9/11 attacks -- and this good man just volunteered to go to Baghdad for an eighth deployment in September.
(But don’t tell Dick Cheney. Shotgun Dick got 5 deferments to avoid serving at all.)
We need for people to volunteer to defend America. Because in this war, we face dangerous enemies who have attacked us here at home. Oh, I know the passage of time has convinced some -- maybe convinced some that danger doesn't exist. But that's not how I see it, and that's not how many of you see it. These people want to strike us again. We learned on September the 11th that in the age of terror, the best way to do our duty, which is to protect the American people, is to go on the offense and stay on the offense. And that's exactly what we've been doing against these radicals and extremists.
(Our offense is inspiring the radicals and extremists to fight even harder in the chaos of the Iraqi civil war.)
It is best that we take the fight to where the enemy lives, so we don't have to face them where we live.
(By doing so we cause those enemies to want to come here even more.)
And so since 9/11, that's precisely the strategy we have followed. In Afghanistan -- where I know some of you have been deployed and some of you are deployed -- we removed a regime that gave sanctuary and support to al Qaeda as they planned the 9/11 attacks which killed nearly 3,000 citizens. They found safe haven. That's what they like.
(And all of those poppy fields.)
They like a place where they can plot and plan in relatively -- in security, all aiming to come and harm the citizens of the greatest face for liberty in the world.
(Not my face…I meant to say force.)
This enemy of ours -- they have got an ideology. They believe in something.
(Just as we believed in attacking a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. Our ideology was to invade and bomb for oil while removing a dictator.)
We believe in an Almighty, we believe in the freedom for people to worship that Almighty. They don't.
(Just don’t tell Allah this.)
And it's our charge, it's our calling to keep the pressure on these people, to defend America and to spread an ideology of hope and an ideology of peace so that the kids who came up here to give the Pledge of Allegiance will be able to live in peace and security.
(Our crusade and mission is to spread peace with war.)
There's more than one front in this war against these radicals and extremists. And, obviously, the toughest threat of all is in Iraq.
(Not in Iran, China, Syria, Russia, Cuba, North Korea or Venezuela.)
The world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power.
(But not Iraq.)
Earlier this year, I announced a new strategy in Iraq, under the leadership of General David Petraeus, and new Ambassador, Ryan Crocker.
(Other commanders were asked to leave because they opposed my strategy.)
It's a tough fight, but I wouldn't have asked those troops to go into harm's way if the fight was not essential to the security of the United States of America.
(And to oil companies and the Pentagon’s corporate supporters.)
Many of the spectacular car bombings and killings you see are as a result of al Qaeda -- the very same folks that attacked us on September the 11th.
(Don’t tell me that it’s a different al Qaeda spawned by me.)
If we were to quit Iraq before the job is done, the terrorists we are fighting would not declare victory and lay down their arms -- they would follow us here, home.
(Well, it’s one or the other: either they lay down their arms and follow us home, or they keep fighting each other and all those other Iraqi sects.)
If we were to allow them to gain control of Iraq, they would have control of a nation with massive oil reserves (The oil that Western nations and our corporations need) -- which they could use to fund new attacks and exhort economic blackmail on those who didn't kowtow to their wishes.
(And stop other nations from extorting oil and strategic power as they wished.)
However difficult the fight is in Iraq (no matter if a million more Iraqis and thousands more American soldiers die), we must win it (even if winning is losing) -- we must succeed for our own sake; for the security of our citizens, we must support our troops, we must support the Iraqi government, and we must defeat al Qaeda in Iraq.
(What about the Sunnis…the Shiites…and others?)
Victory in this struggle will require more patience, more courage, and more sacrifice.
(And more and more propaganda. My surge strategy was only the beginning)
Our military families miss their moms and dads, and husbands and wives, and sons and daughters. And they look forward to welcoming their loved ones home.
(Hopefully not in body bags.)
And we all long for the day when there are far fewer American servicemen and women in Iraq.
(But that won’t be soon, because re-deployments will need to continue.)
The time will come when Iraq has a stable, self-sustaining government that is an ally against these extremists and killers.
(Well, at least a stable for their camels.)
That time will come when the Iraqi people will not need the help of 159,000 American troops in their country.
(But that time will be a long time coming.)
Yet, withdrawing our troops prematurely based on politics, not on the advice and recommendation of our military commanders, would not be in our national interest.
(Based on the advice of commanders who serve now…not of those who have retired or have been fired.)
It would hand the enemy a victory and put America's security at risk -- and that's something we're not going to do.
(This is just a theory.)
As we celebrate our independence this 4th, we can have confidence in the enduring principles of our founding.
(Even though our principal founders such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson might not be celebrating what I have done to this nation.)
We're doing the hard work now so generations of American kids can grow up in peace.
(And start paying off the debts.)
It's necessary work (but invading Iraq wasn’t), it's important work (war is hell but so is work), and I thank you for your sacrifices.
(Just clean up the blood.)
May God bless you, and may God bless America.