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Troops Counted Among America's Blessings -- Bush

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Bush Counts Troops Among America's Blessings This Thanksgiving

President Bush issued his Thanksgiving greeting today, counting members of the U.S. military among the many blessings Americans have to be thankful for.

"Today, the men and women of the United States armed forces are taking risks for our freedom," the president said at historic Berkeley Plantation in Charles City, Va. "They're fighting on the front lines of the war on terror, the war against extremists and radicals who would do us more harm."

Bush noted that many U.S. troops will spend Thanksgiving far away from the comforts of home and expressed thanks for their service and sacrifice, as well as that of their families. "We keep their families and loved ones in our prayers," he said. "We pray for the families who lost a loved one in this fight against the extremists and radicals, and we vow that their sacrifice will not be in vain."

Americans are grateful to live in a time when freedom is taking hold in places where liberty was once considered unimaginable, the president said. He noted that the number of democracies in the world has more than doubled since the early 1980s.

"From our own history, we know these young democracies will face challenges and setbacks in the journey ahead," he said. "Yet as they travel the road to freedom, they must know that they will have a constant and reliable friend in the United States of America."

Bush expressed gratitude for U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines and all other Americans "who serve a cause larger than themselves," from police officers to firefighters to religious leaders to ordinary citizens who become good Samaritans in times of distress.

The president noted America's long tradition of giving thanks during Thanksgiving celebrations. He recalled the first Thanksgiving celebration in the New World, at Berkeley in 1619, and the Pilgrim's Thanksgiving after their first harvest in New England.

He also noted times in the nation's history when fighting forces have paused to reflect on all they have to be grateful for. "We remember that George Washington led his men in thanksgiving during the American Revolution," he said. "And we remember that Abraham Lincoln revived the Thanksgiving tradition in the midst of a bloody civil war."

The sound of a bugle call first adopted by Union forces at Berkeley during the Civil War serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made for the freedoms Americans enjoy today, Bush said. "The bugle call has become known as 'Taps.' And when we hear it play, we remember that the freedoms we enjoyed have come at a heavy price."

ENDS

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