President Bush urged Americans to use Memorial Day to rededicate themselves to fighting for freedom around the world and pray for the safety of U.S. troops serving overseas.
“In Iraq and Afghanistan, millions have shown their desire to be free,” Bush said Saturday in his weekly radio address. “We are determined to help them secure their liberty. “
On Monday, Bush will mark his sixth Memorial Day as a wartime president with a visit to Arlington National Cemetery. He is to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns to honor those who have died in past and current conflicts.
“From Valley Forge to Vietnam, from Kuwait to Kandahar, from Berlin to Baghdad, brave men and women have given up their own futures so that others might have a future of freedom,” he said. “Because of their sacrifice, millions here and around the world enjoy the blessings of liberty. And wherever these patriots rest, we offer them the respect and gratitude of our nation.”
Bush used his radio address to tell the story of Sgt. David Christoff Jr. of Rossford, Ohio, one of at least 3,431 members of the U.S. military who have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003. Christoff signed up for the Marines the day after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, saying he didn’t want his brother and sister to “live in fear,” Bush said.
‘We rededicate ourselves to freedom’s cause’
Christoff was deployed to Iraq, where he fought in street battles in Fallujah and earned a Purple Heart for wounds suffered in action. He returned to Iraq and was killed last May in the volatile Anbar province.
“When his family received his belongings, his mother and his father each found a letter from David,” Bush said. “He asked that they pray for his fellow Marines and all those still serving overseas.”
Bush said U.S. troops are helping build democracies that respect the rights of their people, uphoald the rule of law and become allies in the fight against extremists.
“On Memorial Day, we rededicate ourselves to freedom’s cause,” the president said.
‘The best way to honor the troops ...’
For their weekly radio address, Democrats called on Elliot Anderson of Las Vegas, who spent four years on active duty with the Marine Corps, including a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan.
Anderson said patriotism is an American value, not a Democratic or a Republican one.
“I strongly oppose our involvement in Iraq’s civil war, but I am still proud of my service to my country,” Anderson said.
“But I know I speak for many of my friends overseas when I say that the best way to honor the troops is to responsibly end our involvement in Iraq’s civil war. As long as President Bush stays committed to the same policies that aren’t working, it won’t be easy. But I am proud to see Democrats and now some brave Republicans standing up to him.”