By Mr. Richard S Walters (IMCOM)August 6, 2008
YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of KoreaAca,!" President George W. Bush spoke to a full-capacity crowd of servicemembers, families and civilian employees here at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan, Collier Field House, Aug. 6.
The president arrived to the enthusiastic cheers of more than a thousand Americans who serve, live and work on the Korean peninsula along with their Republic of Korea military counterparts. Bush thanked the service members for their dedicated service, lauded military families and commended the U.S. alliance with the Republic of Korea, which has endured for 55 years.
Aca,!A"The American people are grateful for your service and so is your Commander in Chief,Aca,!A? Bush said. Aca,!A"So to the military spouses and to the children who are here, please know that the United States of America is grateful for the sacrifices that you all are making on behalf of our country. And I am proud to be in your presence.Aca,!A?
To ROK military personnel, Bush said Aca,!A"WeAca,!a,,cre honored by your friendship. WeAca,!a,,cre proud of our alliance, and weAca,!a,,cre inspired by your work to advance the cause of liberty.Aca,!A?
Bush commented on the historical importance of the ROK-US alliance for the region. Aca,!A"Fifty-five years have passed since the guns went quiet and the cease-fire was signed on this peninsula,Aca,!A? Bush said. Aca,!A"And since that time our forces have kept the peace. Our nations have built a robust alliance.Aca,!A?
The president described the Korean people and the Korean military as strong allies to the United States. Aca,!A"Thanks to the contribution of men and women who are wearing the uniform just like you, the partnership between America and Korea has become one of the great success stories of modern times,Aca,!A? Bush said. The president also stated that working with its ROK allies to help build a free and prosperous country was good for America and enhances U.S. national security.
In his remarks, the president underscored the fact that the U.S. Army in Korea is undergoing one of the largest transformations in its history in support of the alliance. Aca,!A"As South Korea has grown in strength, it takes a larger role, more significant role in its own defenses,Aca,!A? Bush said.
Aca,!A"The bedrock of this alliance is our belief in liberty,Aca,!A? the president said. Aca,!A"And there is no place on earth that clearly demonstrates the contrast between free and open societies, and repressive, closed societies than the Korean peninsula.Aca,!A?
Applause erupted from the crowd as the president discussed working with U.S. allies in Asia to deter the North Korean nuclear program. Aca,!A"We are going to stand united with South Korea and China and Japan and Russia until we reach our ultimate goal -- and that is a Korean peninsula where people are free from nuclear weapons and free from oppression.Aca,!A? Bush said.
The president was joined by his wife, Laura, his daughter, Barbara, his brother Marvin and his sister-in-law Margaret.