Remarks at the Armed
Forces Farewell Salute in
Thank you all very much. And I express the thanks of my roommate, who unfortunately is ill and has no voice, tried to get up and get here, and I sent her back to bed.
been my responsibility, my duty, and very much my honor to serve as Commander
in Chief of this nation's Armed Forces these past 8 years. That is the most
sacred, most important task of the Presidency. Since our nation's founding, the
primary obligation of the national government has been the common defense of
We live in an age of great prosperity and ease, a time when many people your age are getting themselves established in the world in circumstances of comfort that would astonish your ancestors. You have chosen a different path, a path of service to country and to others rather than to self. You have made yourselves a shining example of how men and women can find within themselves qualities of self-sacrifice, bravery, camaraderie, and true courage. These are many of the noblest virtues to which humankind can aspire. They are martial virtues. You have made the comfortable lives of your fellow Americans possible by taking on these responsibilities by choice. And over the past 8 years, the luster has been restored to the reputation of our fighting forces after a time during which it was shamefully fashionable to deride and even condemn service such as yours. Those days will never come again.
it's not just your fellow Americans who owe you a debt. No, I believe many more
do, for I believe that military service in the Armed Forces of the
might consider those words somewhat controversial, but to them I just say this:
Just ask the freedom-loving people of
were and are willing to fight and die for
In 1973 , at the end of the arduous War of Independence, George Washington took his final leave of the armies that had set America free and painted in eloquent words a noble portrait of the American Armed Forces that describes them -- and the society as a whole, I might add -- to this very day. ``For who,'' he said, ``has before seen a disciplined army form'd at once from such raw materials. Who could imagine that the most violent local prejudices would cease so soon, and that men who came from the different parts of the continent, strongly disposed to despise and quarrel with each other, would instantly become but one patriotic brand [band] of brothers, or who, that was not on the spot, can trace the steps by which such a wonderful revolution has been effected, and such a glorious period put to all our warlike toils?''
Who, indeed. Where, I have at times
asked myself, where do you all come from? How have you managed to cohere into
the crack, disciplined, patriotic brand [band] of brothers I see before me this
morning? Well, the answer's simple. You come from the southwest and the
northeast, from the
God bless you all, and thank you.
Note: The President spoke at in the Air Force One complex at Andrews Air Force Base. Prior to his remarks, the President participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of the new complex.