Friday, December 22, 2006

SECDEF's Farewell

While filtering through my message traffic last week, I recieved this message from former SECDEF, the Honorable Donald Rumsfeld. I've been meaning to post it, because I thought it was a really nice message to all of us who serve and that some of you might appreciate it:
For these past six years, I have had the opportunity and the privilege to serve with the greatest military the world has ever known. To all the men and women in uniform across the globe, I wish that I could look you in the eyes, shake your hands and express my heartfelt gratitude for your service. You have given me a complete sense of pride in our mission, and an abiding confidence in our country, especially in those who volunteer to risk you lives to defend us.

As I complete my second tour as Secretary of Defense, I leave knowing that the true strength of our U.S. military lies not in our weapons, but in the hearts of the men and women in uniform, in your patriotism, in your professionalism, and your determination to accomplish the mission.

President Abraham Lincoln said “Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way.” That remains as true today as it did during President Lincoln’s time. I have seen countless examples of this resolve when I have met with those serving in this long struggle against violent extremism.

I visited a base near Fallujah two days before Christmas where marines have been engaged in some of the most intense house-to-house fighting since World War II. A staff sergeant asked my why there wasn’t a way he could extend his tour beyond his unit’s service limit in Iraq.

A young man I met at Bethesda Naval Hospital was in the very early stages of recovery from multiple wounds suffered in Iraq. He looked up at me with a tube in his nose, and said, “If only the American people will give us the time we need, we can do it, we are getting it done.”

A soldier I met in Afghanistan said, “I really can’t believe we’re allowed to do something this important.” I feel the same way. I can’t believe I have had the chance to be involved in something so important to the safety of the American people and the future of our country.

What you are accomplishing is not simply important – it is historic. When the cause of human freedom requires men and women to stand on the front lines in its defense, you stepped forward to liberate more than 50 million citizens in Afghanistan and Iraq. You captured or killed tens of thousands of extremists, taking the fight to where they live, rather than waiting for them to attack us again where our families live. You helped alleviates the conditions that foster extremism in places like the horn of Africa, the Philippines, and elsewhere so that your children and grandchildren do not have to face our current challenges.

This month has two important anniversaries – the free elections of the Iraqi National Assembly and the seating of the first democratically elected president of Afghanistan. We remember the images of Iraqis proudly raising purple fingers in the air after voting in their first free elections, and the images of Afghani girls singing with joy as their new president took office. Those were historic chapters in the saga of human freedom and you made them possible.

This long struggle is complex and remains unfamiliar and little understood. Some may believe that there is no need to remain engaged. The enemy is counting on us to falter. You are the ones who experience success and who endure the setbacks of this struggle. It is a daily test of your personal will. We all know that the cause of freedom is well worth the price.

In 10 or 20 years, when you are talking to your children or grandchildren, you will look back on your service, at what you have accomplished, with a great sense of pride. You will know that you were part of a truly proud history. Indeed, that you were the makers of that proud history and an inspiration to generations that followed.

It has been the highest honor of my life to serve with you, the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces. You define and embody the American spirit. You have helped millions triumph over tyranny during this time of great consequence. You have my eternal respect and you will remain in my thoughts and prayers always. May God bless you and your families, and may God continue to bless our wonderful country.

Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Little Miss Chatterbox bloody well said...

Awesome post, I love Rummy!!!!!!

24 December, 2006 01:40  
Blogger Corie bloody well said...

Ditto what LMC said!

26 December, 2006 13:25  

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