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Rumsfeld, Myers call on Americans to support troops

30 Jun 2005 | Army Sgt. Sara Wood

In anticipation of upcoming Independence Day celebrations, the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff asked for support of the troops and expressed confidence in the American people's spirit during a Pentagon town hall meeting June 29.

This was the first time the town hall meeting involved worldwide participation, Donald H. Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard B. Myers took questions from servicemembers and civilians live at the Pentagon session and via the Web from other parts of the world.

"America still remains what President Lincoln called 'The last best hope on Earth,'" Secretary Rumsfeld said. "Certainly, on this coming Independence Day, we should all reflect on how truly fortunate each of us is to live in this blessed country ... and most of all, we all should pause and remember and honor all of those who are undertaking the truly noble work of preserving our freedom. We are deeply in their debt."

The negative perception of operations in Iraq that comes from the media is not an accurate depiction of the situation there, he said. In fact, significant progress is being made, and Afghanistan and Iraq have hopeful futures, he said. The legitimacy and value of the missions in these countries, although they may be doubted now, will be proven over time by what Secretary Rumsfeld called the "inner gyroscope" of the American people.

"We have staked everything on the idea that people, given sufficient information ... will find their way to reasonably right decisions over time," Secretary Rumsfeld said. "They may move off for a period of time, but they'll come back. And I guess all we can do -- all you can do, all I can do -- is to continually look for people who will stand up and tell the truth, who will be willing to defend people who deserve to be defended, criticize people who deserve to be criticized, and to constantly try to get our eyes up off our shoelaces and look out on the horizon on things that are important and lasting, as opposed to being swept away by the emotion of the moment."

Judging a conflict by a certain moment's circumstances is dangerous, Secretary Rumsfeld said, and leads to unbalanced conclusions that are proven wrong when the conflict is viewed in the context of history.

"Balanced assessments certainly require time, they require patience and they require perspective," he said.

With the approaching holiday, it is important for servicemembers to hear messages of support not only from their senior leaders, but also from American citizens who appreciate the work they are doing, General Myers said.

"We're all in this together in this country, with our friends and allies," he said. "You can serve in lots of ways."

To get ideas on how to support the troops, people can visit the Defense Department’s "America Supports You" Web site, Secretary Rumsfeld said, echoing President Bush's recommendation in his June 28 address to the nation on Iraq. America Supports You is a nationwide program launched by DOD to recognize citizen support for the nation's servicemembers and to communicate that support to members of the armed forces at home and abroad.
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