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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
December 10, 2004

President Bush Visits USO Care Package Facility at Ft. Belvoir
Ft. Belvoir, Virginia


2:08 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Listen, Laura and I are thrilled to be out here, and we want to thank you all for greeting us, and thank you for giving us a chance to participate in this assembly line of compassion.

First, I want to thank Elaine Rogers who is the President of the USO of Metropolitan Washington. Ned Powell, I appreciate Ned for being here, as well. It turns out that my grandfather, Prescott S. Bush, was the first President and CEO of USO, so it's only fitting that I'm coming -- working in the assembly line. (Laughter.) But I want to thank you for your leadership. (Applause.)

I want to thank Cheryl Hall. I want to thank Colonel T.W. Williams, the Garrison Commander of Ft. Belvoir. I want to thank Command Sergeant Major Andr Douglas. He reminded me that he and I spent Thanksgiving together last year in Baghdad. So it's great to see you again, Command Sergeant Major. I want to thank Mary Jo Myers, the wife of my friend, General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

Most of all, I want to thank all the volunteers who are here. I want to thank your spirit. (Applause.)

So, Scott asked me what's -- what are we doing? I said, we're sending packages to our troops overseas, a package full of all different goodies, you know -- a little gum, playing cards. But you can't ever thank the troops enough. This is one way of saying, America appreciates your service to freedom and peace and our security. You can't put enough playing cards in there; you can't put enough sticks of gum.

But I hope our troops understand that with this package comes a lot of support and a lot of affection from not only a husband or a wife, or a mom or a dad, but equally important, an average citizen who you never met, somebody who deeply appreciates your service, somebody who understands the mission, and somebody who stands solidly with you as you work to make the world a better place.

I know it's hard for our families -- military families to be separated from a loved one during any time, but in particular, doing the holiday season. And so we ask for God's blessings, not only on our troops who are overseas, but we ask for the Lord's blessings on our family members.

This is -- this whole operation here is cranking out a lot of care packages. So far, 480,000 soldiers overseas have received a care package. (Applause.) And with it, as I said, is a message of goodwill and hope. We're -- this is an historic time we live in. The world is changing. And as it changes, as the world becomes more free, America becomes more secure and the peace we all long for becomes more real.

And so during these holiday seasons, we thank our blessings, and one of the greatest blessings of all is the United States military and their families. Thank you for having us. I look forward to coming by to thank each of you. (Applause.)

Our intention here is not to stop progress but to encourage progress. (Laughter.) Thanks for your hard work. If any of our fellow citizens are interested to know how you can help, there's a web page set up at the Defense Department and/or at the USA Freedom Corps for ways to help the USO or any other organization that supports our United States military. God bless you all, and thanks for letting us come by. (Applause.)

END 2:11 P.M. EST

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