- The Washington Times - Friday, September 12, 2003

FORT STEWART, Ga. — President Bush yesterday rallied U.S. troops for the continuing war against terror, earning a resounding “hoo-ah” from 15,000 camo-clad soldiers, a day after leading the nation in a somber remembrance of the September 11 terrorist attack victims.

“The people of our military have faced many hardships in Iraq, and you faced them with courage,” the president said in an outdoor speech to the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, which sent 16,000 soldiers to Iraq. Forty were killed.

“You know the names of some who fought for our country and didn’t come home, who died in the line of duty. … All who serve understand what this fight is about,” said Mr. Bush who later met with the families of soldiers killed in the war on terror.

“Our military is confronting terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan and in other places, so that our people will not have to confront terrorist violence in our own cities,” Mr. Bush said.

While being presented with the Presidential Unit Citation — the highest award given to a military unit for exceptional valor — the division stood at attention in desert fatigues and black and red berets on a bright, crisp day.

Throughout the president’s speech, the thousands of soldiers who have just returned from battle in Iraq punctuated many lines with a thunderous “hoo-ah,” an all-purpose Army chant signifying approval.

“Since we last met, soldiers of the Third Infantry Division have fought in Afghanistan (‘hoo-ah’, 5); you have hunted terrorists in Pakistan (‘hoo-ah’, 5); you’ve launched the coalition offensive into Iraq (‘hoo-ah’, 5); defeated the enemy in Najaf (‘hoo-ah’, 5); you took the Saddam Hussein International Airport and seized his palaces (‘hoo-ah’, 5); and you led the fighting into Baghdad the day the statue of the dictator was pulled down,” Mr. Bush said.

At the end of the passage, the troops let out a deafening “hoo-ah.”

Reiterating a chief tenet of the Bush Doctrine, the president told the soldiers that taking the battle to Iraq, where dictator Saddam Hussein harbored and encouraged terrorists, is making America more secure.

“We are not waiting for further attacks on our citizens. We are striking our enemies before they can strike us again. As all of you know, wars are fought on the offensive, and America and our friends are staying on the offensive.”

Previewing the message he will deliver to the United Nations when he addresses it Sept. 23, Mr. Bush urged other nations — some of which opposed the U.S.-led war against Iraq and have yet to offer help in rebuilding the nation — to put aside petty differences.

“Terrorists in Iraq have attacked representatives of the civilized world and opposing them and defeating them must be the cause of the civilized world,” Mr. Bush told the soldiers and their wives, many caring for babies.

The president’s remarks came as Secretary of State Colin L. Powell went to Geneva to meet with foreign ministers of fellow U.N. Security Council members Britain, France, Russia and China, and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

In his speech, Mr. Bush said Mr. Powell will “carry a message: No free nation can be neutral in the fight between civilization and chaos. … It’s time for others to join us.”

Mr. Bush began the event by presenting the Presidential Unit Citation to Capt. Vern Tubbs, who wrote the president a letter from Iraq saying he saw firsthand the Iraqi people’s desire for liberty.

“Some of you know him — you gave him a pretty good seat here today,” he said, noting the captain’s front-row seat. … Capt. Tubbs and all of you have helped put Iraq on the path to freedom and opportunity. And every man, woman, and child in Iraq can be certain of this: The old regime is gone, and the regime is never coming back.”

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