November 12th, 2009
06:39 PM ET
11 years ago

Obama pays tribute to military in Alaska


President Obama visited U.S. troops at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska Thursday. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

(CNN) - President Barack Obama completed his geographic American journey Thursday, visiting his 50th state by stopping in Alaska to pay tribute to military personnel while en route to Asia.

"I had up until today visited 49 states, so this is officially my 50th state," Obama told a cheering crowd - many holding up flashing cameras - at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska.

Repeating themes from his Veterans Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery a day earlier, Obama thanked the soldiers, sailors, airmen and others for their military service, saying it protects America's freedom and values.

The president cited this week's "days of tribute," noting the memorial service at Fort Hood, Texas, on Tuesday to honor "13 Americans who have been taken from us," as well as the Veterans Day observance Wednesday.

"As citizens of a grateful nation, we are humbled by such service," Obama said.

"I'm here to say to all of you, all of you who serve, all the families that are here, of all the privileges I have as president, I have no greater honor than serving as your commander in chief," he said to cheers and applause.

Obama promised to fully support the military in his presidency to ensure it can carry out whatever mission the nation requires.

"I will never hesitate to use force to protect the American people or our vital interests," Obama said, adding: "I will not risk your lives unless it is necessary to America's vital interests, and if it is necessary, the United States of America will have your back."

Calling the nation's obligation to the military "a sacred trust that we are honor-bound to uphold," Obama concluded by saying: "Thank you for serving today. Thank you to you and your families for all you do to protect this nation we love."

The stop in Alaska was part of the initial leg of Obama's first trip to Asia as president, a four-nation visit intended to strengthen U.S. ties in the region.

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. ThinkAgain

    Thank you, Mr. President!

    As a member of a multi-generational military family, I have great confidence in your ability to put the best interests of our armed forces and our country first – and to take care of our veterans when they return.

    Keep up the good work, Sir!

    November 12, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  2. DLH in VA

    How quickly we forget: May 9, 2008: "It is wonderful to be back in Oregon," Obama said. "Over the last 15 months, we’ve traveled to every corner of the United States. I’ve now been in 57 states? I think one left to go. Alaska and Hawaii, I was not allowed to go to even though I really wanted to visit, but my staff would not justify it."

    November 12, 2009 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  3. Scott, Tucson

    Maybe obama can reverse the assine law Bill Clinton put into place where our military can't carry weapons on military installations for self defense. So maybe when the next Muslim Jihadi tries shooting up a base, our military people can at least defend themselves.

    So when is the big O going to make a decision on Afghanistan...just before he leaves office in 2013?

    November 12, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  4. valwayne

    Obama paying tribute to the military while he leaves our troops in Afghanistan without the support his own hand picked General says they need for months! How do you spell Hypocrite? O B A M A! Send the support or bring them all home and accept the consequences Mr. President. Stop the dithering our troops need help!

    November 12, 2009 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  5. Meka

    Thank you President Obama, and keep the General 'Close'

    November 12, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  6. sycamore

    God Bless the USA and God Bless our President!

    November 12, 2009 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  7. Mike, formerly from Syracuse

    How can he say he will 'fully support the military' when he's waffling on sending the troops they need to Afghanistan? The man lies every time he opens his mouth.

    November 12, 2009 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  8. Keith in Austin

    Why doesn't Obozo honor our fighting men and women by listening to the pleas of General McChrystal and send reinforcements NOW. I hope Barry and Micki enjoy their 9-day galivant through the Orient while our military remains in Harm's Way and millions of Americans are out of work!

    Pathetic and weak, period!

    November 12, 2009 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  9. Gary

    Go military we love you!

    November 12, 2009 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  10. 30 Year Veteran

    This is a false prophet speaking. He speaks with a forked tongue. He wishes for the soldiers to fail therefore no help is forthcoming to their war in Afghanistan. If I were the Generals I would make decisions for myself. Either take this country over because we are being traitored on and either furish our soldiers what they need or bring them home. Then hope no one gets in the way of military control of the United States who needs some guidance. We are not getting it now with the constitution of the United States being shredded by one bill after another. DO NOT TAKE GOD OUT OF A COUNTRY BECAUSE THAT COUNTRY WILL FALL.

    November 12, 2009 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  11. steveo

    Not the 57th state as he said during the campaign?

    November 12, 2009 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  12. D. D.

    Now he has been to every state, correct? And to think Sarah Palin missed this photo op. She could have gotten off the bus, flew to Alaska and snowboarded back to meet our President.

    November 12, 2009 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  13. cmoore

    At least he finally learned there are not 57 states like he said during the campain. I guess reading "America For Dummies" has paid off.

    November 12, 2009 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  14. A.B.

    President Obama and his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama sincerely care about our military personnel and their families and will formulate and implement policies and executive orders that will improve the lives of our service members. I like the fact that President Obama directed the establishment of veteran recruitment drives in federal agencies and offices that oversee such recruitment in each federal agency. Furthermore, President Obama has increased the budget for the VA and promises to end veteran homelessness in five years from now. He also promised not to arbitrarily put service people in harms way and will only do so when objectively neccessary. The military is in good hands on Obama's watch!!

    November 12, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  15. American

    I think it is good that our presidents thank our brave servicepeople in person. Kudos too to Michelle Obama for focusing on support for military families. Their sacrifice too is great.

    November 12, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  16. Patsy, Texas

    Now, this is worthy of your "ticker". Our troops, our President,
    our Country.

    November 12, 2009 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  17. andrew

    this while he sits on his hands and leaves our troops in Afghanistan high and dry while he calculates his most politically prudent move. He is a horrible joke of a President. Does anyone remember that he already announced a strategy for Afghanistan at the beginning of reign?

    Hopefully maybe he will have another summit or maybe he will give a nice speech, or maybe he will give a " shout out" to his peeps.

    what a horrible joke he is.

    November 12, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  18. RD

    When Obama said during the election process, "Our Troops
    are air raiding and bombing civilians" Gov. Palin was right
    then and she is right now. When she said Obama isn't
    Qualfied to be CIC. I hope other Alaskans let Obama
    know he isn't welcome here in Alaska, and he possible
    could be, if he apologized to the the American
    People and the troops for those words.

    November 12, 2009 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  19. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    President Obama has done what no other President has done in support of our troops and it's past time for the rest of the country to do the same. It's not about President Obama it's about our troops and I support him because he will make the best decision.

    November 12, 2009 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  20. gail

    I am very proud of President Obama and I am glad that he is thinking things through on Afghanistan and not letting the hyperbole of some quarters pressure him into hasty decision making. We are already paying the price for that now.

    November 12, 2009 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  21. Moe, NY

    President Obama, I too support our military...but...please just take them home...let the Mideast do what it will do within their own country. America has the military might...if we really need to do something we can do it, and fast! (I know the republicans...i.e. Cheny/Bush kept it going for their rich friends). Actually, this sham of 2 wars could have been over very fast...without the loss of so many of our young people, heart...we all know it! Please just recall all our military personnel, unless America is serious about fighting and if this is the case then get in and get out, better yet...let our military fight and the politicans be dammed.

    November 12, 2009 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |