The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
June 13, 2003

VP Remarks at the 228th Army Birthday
The Pentagon Courtyard

10:04 A.M. EDT

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Mr. Vice President, Acting Secretary Les Brownlee, thank you. And, distinguished guests, and, ladies and gentlemen, it is a real pleasure to help celebrate the 228th birthday of the finest army on the face of the Earth.

AUDIENCE: Ooahh. (Applause.)

SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Today we honor the soldiers who defended our shores and fight for freedom around the world. We remember those who gave their lives in their service of our country. The Army, of course, has gone from liberating Boston, to liberating Baghdad; from cavalry charges, to tanks racing across deserts; from snows of Valley Forge, to the sandstorms of central Iraq; from patriots with single-shot muskets, to Patriot missiles downing enemy missiles.

We salute the doughboys, the GI's, the buck privates, and, yes, the officers, the generals, as well -- soldiers of all ranks and roles. And today I also want to make a brief salute to an Army man who began the transformation of the Army from the Cold War to a 21st century fighting force. One of General Erik Shinseki's predecessors, General John Wickam, wrote about his job as chief of staff, he said, "Make a difference. The time each of us is in charge is short."

Well, with his energy and drive, General Shinseki has made a difference. And earlier this week, he completed his service as Army chief of staff. And we wish Patty and General Shinseki well, and we thank them both for their dedicated service. (Applause.)

Vice Chief Jack Keene will serve as acting chief of staff. And as you all know, Jack Keene is a man of great vision who understands the Army well and will keep it marching along with precision and skill.

Now it is with great pleasure that I turn to a solid friend of the United States military. As Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney presided over the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, and the liberation of Panama from the dictator Manuel Noriega. His calm, cool, unflappable demeanor, coupled with his sound judgment, has served our country well for many decades -- but none better than during the challenges of 9/11 and since -- through Afghanistan, Iraq, and the global war on terror.

The President, the nation, and the Department of Defense are truly fortunate to have him back in service. Mr. Vice President, your leadership, wisdom, energy are making a difference every day. And we thank you for that and welcome you back to the Pentagon. (Applause.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. The place looks pretty good. (Laughter.) And the department is in very good hands these days in my old friend and colleague, Don Rumsfeld.

We're here for a very special reason, obviously, and that's to celebrate the birth on June 14th, of 1775, of the United States Army. And since that day, it's had one overriding mission, to fight and to win America's wars. From the Revolution to the current war on terror, wherever our soldiers have fought, they have maintained the highest standards of professionalism, of honor, and of courage. The fundamental interest of this nation requires that we confront and defeat aggressive threats whenever they arise. Yet we find our greatest security in the advance of human freedom. Throughout its history, the United States Army has served and defended the cause of freedom. And many brave Americans have laid down their lives so that liberty could triumph. America seeks a world at peace, but we know that the best way to keep the peace is to make sure that our military power is second to none.

That is why even as it faces a daunting array of challenges around the globe, the U.S. Army is also hard at work transforming itself to confront the threats of a new era. I am confident the Army will be well prepared to meet all of tomorrow's security challenges. It will be even more agile, more flexible, and more technologically advanced than it is today. But one thing I am certain will never change: Tomorrow, like today, the most important ingredient for the Army's success will be the soldiers who take the risk, who make the sacrifices, and who win our wars.

So as we celebrate the Army's 228th birthday, President Bush and I would like to thank every member of the United States Army for what you do for all of us, for the great honor you bring to your uniform, to our flag, and to our nation. Wherever you go, you bring justice and freedom and the hope for a better day, and always you make America proud. (Applause.)

END 10:10 A.M. EDT

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