Our Service members, the Best of America

Posted: Dec 23, 2005 12:06 AM
Throughout our nation's distinguished history, America has often been thrust into periods of armed conflict that have tested the will of our citizens. The necessity of these conflicts has arisen for a variety of reasons--the fight for our independence, the abolition of slavery, the spread of Nazism and fascism through Europe, to name a few--and the different times and resultant challenges of each has made them markedly different. But one constant, one truth that all Americans have been able to rely on during every difficult time our nation has faced, has been the strength and character of those who serve in our armed forces.

Today, our nation is again at war. It is a different war than we've faced in the past, with different boundaries and a different enemy. But once more, Americans are fortunate to enjoy the protection provided by a collection of men and women who make up one of the greatest fighting forces ever assembled. This is not to suggest that this war will be easy--war, irrespective of the quality of troops involved, is never easy, and the war we are currently engaged in is no exception. There have been great difficulties to this point, and surely, more difficult times lie ahead. But do not doubt that, as they have so often in the past, our service members will pull America through this troubled and turbulent time. Nor should you doubt that when they do, our nation will be stronger and the world a better, safer place for their sacrifice.

Much of the recent focus on the War on Terror has been on Iraq, where already, the efforts of our soldiers and the allure of democracy have combined to produce profound results. Earlier this month millions of Iraqis, facing intimidation and the threat of violence, voted to elect the first permanent, democratically selected government in their history.

The overwhelming desire of the Iraqi people to participate in the democratic process and make an impression on the future of their nation is a source of inspiration for the millions of people across the globe who suffer the oppression of tyranny. And these elections would not have been possible without the commitment and sacrifice of the American military. The fact that so many Iraqis, including members of all three major Iraqi factions--the Sunni, the Shiite, and the Kurds--exercised their newly acquired right to vote is evidence that confidence in their security has never been higher. We are, undoubtedly, making progress in Iraq, and establishing a lasting, popularly elected government in Iraq will go a long way towards ensuring the spread of peace and democracy throughout the Middle East and beyond. For this, our troops, along with the courageous Iraqi citizens, deserve the lion's share of the credit.

America is a fortunate nation. Our armed forces, all volunteer, exemplify the enduring spirit of America, the spirit that has sustained American democracy since its inception. Today, many of them are across the world, extending that same spirit and unyielding faith in freedom to our Iraqi friends. So as you gather with friends and family during this holiday season, remember the men and women of our armed services and their families, who are so many miles apart. Remember where they are and what they are fighting for-- not just the freedom of the citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan, but for our freedom as well.