January 6th, 2009
11:25 AM ET
5 years ago

Bush reflects on eight years leading the military

Pres. Bush paused to acknowledge applause from the audience after speaking at a military appreciation parade in Virginia Tuesday.
Pres. Bush paused to acknowledge applause from the audience after speaking at a military appreciation parade in Virginia Tuesday.

(CNN) – President George W. Bush appears to be going through a transition of his own in the remaining days of his administration.

The nation’s outgoing Commander-in-Chief seemed reflective and emotional at moments as he spoke at a military appreciation parade in Fort Meyer in Virginia Tuesday.

Watch: Bush honors the military

“We will always remember that you answered the call to serve when your nation needed you most,” the 43rd president said.

“And we will always remember the debt of gratitude that each of us who lives in freedom owes to each of you who has protected it. May God bless you. And may God always bless the United States,” Bush said as he concluded his comments. He appeared to struggle to maintain his composure as his remarks ended.

During his 10-minute address, Bush also made several references to how he called on the military to respond to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. “You closed down the terrorist training camps, and you drove the Taliban from power [in Afghanistan],” Bush said.

“I saw your valor in the fearless troops who stormed across the Iraqi desert and destroyed a regime that threatened America,” he added, also calling the recent military surge in Iraq “one of the great successes in America’s military history.”

In acknowledging the contributions of the military, Bush also seemed to defend his own legacy. “The decisions I made as your Commander-in-Chief have not always been popular,” he said Tuesday. “But the cause you have served has always been just and right. The missions you have carried out have always been necessary.”

“Because you’ve taken the fight to the terrorists abroad, we have not had to face them here at home,” Bush said. “And the world has seen something that almost no one thought possible: more than seven years after September the 11th, there has not been another attack on American soil.”

In his remarks, Bush also described the first decade of the new century as the “early days of a generational struggle against terror and extremism . . . a story of a global coalition led by the United States that is dedicated to eliminating the forces of oppression and fear.”

Bush also specifically acknowledged two of the most controversial figures involved in his administration’s response to September 11, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I am proud to have served with [Vice President Cheney] for eight years,” said Bush. “The military has had no stauncher defender in my administration”

And Bush said Don Rumsfeld, his former Defense Secretary, “did an outstanding job.”

Bush has just 14 days remaining in office until President-elect Barack Obama is inaugurated.

“The military brought me to Washington eight years ago – and on January 20th, the military is taking me home,” Bush told the audience.


Filed under: Iraq • President George W. Bush
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. JB

    We will always remember that you answered the call to serve when your nation needed you most,” the 43rd president said.

    -

    Bush is a disgrace. The troops served admirably and with honor, while their leader did not.

    January 6, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  2. Bush Gaffes Again

    I wouldn't exactly call it "leading'.

    Words that sound more appropriate:
    Using
    Killing
    Exploiting
    Destroying
    Abusing
    Hurting
    Undermining
    Reducing
    Under Equipping
    Crippling
    Exporting for easier destruction
    Incapacitating

    But, definitely NOT leading!

    January 6, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  3. chuck

    WHAT AN IDIOT? GEORGE BUSH MUST TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE MESS IN GAZA. HE ALLOWED HAMAS TO PARTICIPATE IN ELECTIONS WHICH WAS A NO,NO. NOW ISRAEL MUST ERADICATE HAMAS FULLY IN ORDER TO CHANGE GAZA. BUSH SHOULD BE IN JAIL FOR ALL THE CRIMES HE HAS COMMITTED.

    January 6, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  4. Doug

    Ridiculous that the President should be Commander in Chief. What experience in Military affairs did Bush (or Obama for that matter) have?
    Leave military to the experts. The President has far too much power.

    January 6, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  5. CanIcallyouJoe

    '“You closed down the terrorist training camps, and you drove the Taliban from power [in Afghanistan],” Bush said.'

    You should probably mention that whatever Taliban you ran out of Afghanistan, they immediately regrouped in Iraq once you invaded illegally, and started to murder not only American troops but innocent Iraqi civilians.

    '“Because you’ve taken the fight to the terrorists abroad, we have not had to face them here at home,” Bush said. '

    I'm pretty sure you've been in this country since the 'war on terror' began. You and your cronies are all terrorists of the most heinous kind – and by your own definition, no less.

    'Bush also described the first decade of the new century as the “early days of a generational struggle against terror and extremism . . . a story of a global coalition led by the United States that is dedicated to eliminating the forces of oppression and fear.”'

    You mean to end extremism and fear by instating it. Wonderful. I'm sure your PNAC buddies who pay for all your stuff really appreciate the war profiteering your false threats and terror have made possible.

    I am physically sickened by this warmonger rhetoric of rewriting the past.

    Bush's 9/11 never should have happened.
    Bush's two wars never should have happened.

    I hope he and his corrupt VP are both put in prison for their treasonous war crimes and crimes against humanity. The amount of hatred your own people have for you that you have brought upon yourselves in the actions you have taken cannot even begin to be described. If I were to come upon this man laying dirtied and bleeding in the street, I would do nothing but kick him.

    January 6, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  6. chuck

    CNN –YOUR HEADLINE SHOULD HAVE BEEN---------------– "BUSH REFLECTS ON EIGHT YEARS OF MISLEADING THE MILITARY."

    January 6, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  7. bill c.

    just get out...and take that war criminal cheney with you. how much is his(oh thats's right his wife's) halliburton stock worth now after sacrificing so many lives

    January 6, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  8. New Yorker

    Right Chuck, Yet another thing Bush is responsible for. Here are some facts. Palestinians were given yet another chance at peace and they voted Hamas into power. They are getting exactly what any terrorist regime and supporters deserve.

    BUSH IS ONE OF THE BEST PRESIDENTS WE WILL EVER HAVE. Too bad some of you just can't get it.

    Thanks President Bush for keeping us free from terrorists attacks for so many years. Thanks for handling the tough situation that the Clinton administration got us into. God bless you and your family.

    January 6, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  9. Scott

    Thank you Mr. President. I was honored to serve in the military while you and your Father served as president. I am honored that you and I both served the American people. I was wounded as a result of my service and was grateful for your kind words as well as those of your Father's when I met him many years ago. God Bless you, Sir.

    January 6, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  10. arc, Lugano CH

    ...And Bush said Don Rumsfeld, his former Defense Secretary, “did an outstanding job.”...

    The eyes of the world saw what happened at Abu Ghraib.

    Conservatives will still find a way to defend that.

    After all, they're Arabs, Muslims, they aren't human beings...

    January 6, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  11. PA

    Your brave military answered the call to serve because you jumped to war without any valid justification for the same other than personal revenge! No one will ever know if there would have been another terrorist attack on American soil. But we all know there was no ligimate reason for your "Shock & Awe" in Iraq that killed thousands of innocent Iraqui civilians, american brave military service men, an brought not resolve even yet! Just leave.

    January 6, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  12. HouseDiva

    There goes Bush again...beating the same war drumb of lies.

    Iraq didn't threaten America, and he knows it! It's an insult to our fighting men and women's intelligence that he continues to push his lies

    Our military is in a sad shape thanks to Bush and his failed policies. He should be tried for treason.

    January 6, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  13. J.P..

    I wouldn't call it "leading" when Clinton was POTUS, either. It was more like:

    Stealing
    Theiving
    Cutting
    Bankrupting
    Despising
    Hating
    Belitting
    Neglecting
    Gutting
    Crippling
    Reducing
    Bankrupting
    Eviscerating
    Bankrupting
    Demoralizing
    Blue-dressing
    Using
    Posing
    Posturing
    Did I forget bankrupting?

    Clinton basically turned our armed forces into a downsized and demoralized "meals on wheels" delivery vehicle for the U.N. As someone who wore a uniform for a good portion of the Clinton Administration, if I had a nickel for every time I'd been told to "do more with less," I'd dwarf Bill Gates' fortune.

    January 6, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  14. obama-mama

    Does that heading read " George Bush Regrets or Reflects?"

    January 6, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  15. Frustrated broadcaster

    Hey, the location was at Ft. Myer, VA, not Ft. MEYER.

    January 6, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  16. Larry in Houston

    Harry Reid was never more correct......He is, and was, the worst president in U.S. history, without a doubt.....You want to know the reason ? Gore would have been the president, if people would have voted, instead of saying : "it doesn't matter" who gets in there.....

    One thing for sure : people won't say or think THAT ever again !!

    Larry C.
    Houston, Texas

    January 6, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  17. DOC

    =And Bush said Don Rumsfeld, his former Defense Secretary, “did an outstanding job.”=

    Yes. An outstanding job of issuing proper armor to our sons and daughters you sent to war. Oh wait, no you didn't.

    NEVERMIND.

    January 6, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  18. Lee

    He just liked wearing that sock in the codpiece and strutting around like a peacock on that aircraft carrier.

    I'm sure Karl Rove could barely contain his excitement.

    January 6, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  19. TCM

    You liberal cowards are absolutely sickening...Bush, despite his faults, kept terrorist activities off of our soil. He wasn't circling the globe looking to kill Muslims, or anyone else. Such shortsighted ignorance is posted here about Bush. Obama needs to learn from the prior presidents to include Slick Willy....his arrogance of thinking he can negotiate with radicals will get more americans killed....
    Saddam was a WMD himself; and had to go....the problem is too many Americans are spoiled...because it doesn't touch them personally...wait til it does...and then see what that Waffle Obama will do.....

    January 6, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  20. HSNP

    Oh George, you're so irrelevant. Take your sorry rear back to Texas....and stay there.

    January 6, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  21. Viet Vet

    s'cuze me?! Iraq posed NO danger to us!The only WMD's in Iraq were the ones we unleashed in the shock and awe campaign. We in effect attacked an unarmed nation. Years before this happened, Rummy was pumping Saddam's hand. Fast Forward and Bush was hangin' him. Revenge for " he tried to kill my daddy"?

    January 6, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  22. clifford

    President George W. Bush: No scandals! No impeachments! No criminal convictions OR charges EVER including (Cheney)!! Implemented Homeland Security and has kept us safe for nearly eight years!! Talk about honor and integrity! Thank you sir for a job well done!!

    January 6, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |