May 1, 2003 -- Following is a transcript of President Bush's speech from the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln.
Admiral Kelly, Captain Card, officers and sailors of the USSAbraham Lincoln, my fellow Americans, major combat operations in Iraqhave ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allieshave prevailed.
And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructingthat country.
In this battle, we have fought for the cause of liberty and forthe peace of the world. Our nation and our coalition are proud ofthis accomplishment, yet it is you, the members of the United Statesmilitary, who achieved it. Your courage, your willingness to facedanger for your country and for each other made this day possible.
Because of you our nation is more secure. Because of you thetyrant has fallen and Iraq is free.
Operation Iraqi Freedom was carried out with a combinationof precision and speed and boldness the enemy did not expect and theworld had not seen before.
From distant bases or ships at sea, we sent planes and missilesthat could destroy an enemy division or strike a single bunker.Marines and soldiers charged to Baghdad across 350 miles of hostileground in one of the swiftest advances of heavy arms in history.
You have shown the world the skill and the might of the Americanarmed forces.
This nation thanks all of the members of our coalition who joinedin a noble cause. We thank the armed forces of the United Kingdom,Australia and Poland who shared in the hardships of war. We thank allof the citizens of Iraq who welcomed our troops and joined in theliberation of their own country.
And tonight, I have a special word for Secretary Rumsfeld,for General Franks and for all the men and women who wear the uniformof the United States: America is grateful for a job well done.
The character of our military through history, the daring ofNormandy, the fierce courage of Iwo Jima, the decency and idealismthat turned enemies into allies is fully present in this generation.
When Iraqi civilians looked into the faces of our service men andwomen, they saw strength and kindness and good will. When I look atthe members of the United States military, I see the best of ourcountry and I am honored to be your commander in chief.
In the images of fallen statues we have witnessed thearrival of a new era. For a hundred of years of war, culminating inthe nuclear age, military technology was designed and deployed toinflict casualties on an ever-growing scale.
In defeating Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, Allied forcesdestroyed entire cities, while enemy leaders who started the conflictwere safe until the final days. Military power was used to end aregime by breaking a nation.
Today we have the greater power to free a nation by breaking adangerous and aggressive regime.
With new tactics and precision weapons, we can achievemilitary objectives without directing violence against civilians.
No device of man can remove the tragedy from war, yet it is agreat advance when the guilty have far more to fear from war than theinnocent.
In the images of celebrating Iraqis we have also seen the agelessappeal of human freedom. Decades of lies and intimidation could notmake the Iraqi people love their oppressors or desire their ownenslavement.
Men and women in every culture need liberty like they need foodand water and air. Everywhere that freedom arrives, humanity rejoicesand everywhere that freedom stirs, let tyrants fear.
We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We're bringingorder to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We're pursuingand finding leaders of the old regime who will be held to account fortheir crimes. We've begun the search for hidden chemical andbiological weapons, and already know of hundreds of sites that will beinvestigated.
We are helping to rebuild Iraq where the dictator built palacesfor himself instead of hospitals and schools.
And we will stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establisha government of, by and for the Iraqi people.
The transition from dictatorship to democracy will taketime, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until ourwork is done and then we will leave and we will leave behind a freeIraq.
The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that beganon September the 11th, 2001, and still goes on.
That terrible morning, 19 evil men, the shock troops of a hatefulideology, gave America and the civilized world a glimpse of theirambitions. They imagined, in the words of one terrorist, thatSeptember the 11th would be the beginning of the end of America.
By seeking to turn our cities into killing fields, terrorists andtheir allies believed that they could destroy this nation's resolveand force our retreat from the world.
They have failed.
In the battle of Afghanistan, we destroyed the Taliban, manyterrorists and the camps where they trained. We continue to help theAfghan people lay roads, restore hospitals and educate all of theirchildren.
Yet we also have dangerous work to complete. As I speak, aspecial operations task force lead by the 82nd Airborne is on thetrail of the terrorists and those who seek to undermine the freegovernment of Afghanistan.
America and our coalition will finish what we have begun.
From Pakistan to the Philippines to the Horn of Africa, weare hunting down al Qaeda killers.
Nineteen months ago I pledged that the terrorists would notescape the patient justice of the United States. And as of tonightnearly one half of al Qaeda's senior operatives have been captured orkilled.
The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaignagainst terror. We have removed an ally of al Qaeda and cut off asource of terrorist funding.
And this much is certain: No terrorist network will gain weaponsof mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because the regime is nomore.
In these 19 months that changed the world, our actionshave been focused and deliberate and proportionate to the offense. Wehave not forgotten the victims of September the 11th, the last phonecalls, the cold murder of children, the searches in the rubble. Withthose attacks, the terrorists and their supporters declared war on theUnited States, and war is what they got.
Our war against terror is proceeding according to theprinciples that I have made clear to all.
Any person involved in committing or planning terrorist attacksagainst the American people becomes an enemy of this country and atarget of American justice.
Any person, organization or government that supports, protects orharbors terrorists is complicit in the murder of the innocent andequally guilty of terrorist crimes. Any outlaw regime that has tiesto terrorist groups and seeks or possesses weapons of mass destructionis a grave danger to the civilized world and will be confronted.
And anyone in the world, including the Arab world, whoworks and sacrifices for freedom has a loyal friend in the UnitedStates of America.
Our commitment to liberty is America's tradition, declared at ourfounding, affirmed in Franklin Roosevelt's Four Freedoms, asserted inthe Truman Doctrine and in Ronald Reagan's challenge to an evilempire.
We are committed to freedom in Afghanistan, Iraq and in apeaceful Palestine.
The advance of freedom is the surest strategy to undermine theappeal of terror in the world. Where freedom takes hold, hatred givesway to hope.
When freedom takes hold, men and women turn to thepeaceful pursuit of a better life.
American values and American interests lead in the samedirection. We stand for human liberty.
The United States upholds these principles of security andfreedom in many ways: with all of the tools of diplomacy, lawenforcement, intelligence and finance.
We are working with a broad coalition of nations that understandthe threat and our shared responsibility to meet it.
The use of force has been and remains our last resort. Yet allcan know, friend and foe alike, that our nation has a mission: Wewill answer threats to our security, and we will defend the peace.
Our mission continues. Al Qaeda is wounded, notdestroyed. The scattered cells of the terrorist network still operatein many nations and we know from daily intelligence that they continueto plot against free people. The proliferation of deadly weaponsremains a serious danger.
The enemies of freedom are not idle, and neither are we. Ourgovernment has taken unprecedented measures to defend the homeland andwe will continue to hunt down the enemy before he can strike.
The war on terror is not over, yet it is not endless. Wedo not know the day of final victory, but we have seen the turning ofthe tide.
No act of the terrorists will change our purpose, or weaken ourresolve, or alter their fate. Their cause is lost; free nations willpress on to victory.
Other nations in history have fought in foreign lands andremained to occupy and exploit. Americans, following a battle, wantnothing more than to return home. And that is your direction tonight.
After service in the Afghan and Iraqi theaters of war,after 100,000 miles on the longest carrier deployment in recenthistory, you are homeward bound.
Some of you will see new family members for the first time; 150babies were born while their fathers were on the Lincoln. Yourfamilies are proud of you, and your nation will welcome you.
We are mindful as well that some good men and women arenot making the journey home. One of those who fell, Corporal JasonMileo, spoke to his parents five days before his death. Jason'sfather said, "He called us from the center of Baghdad, not to brag butto tell us he loved us. Our son was a soldier."
Every name, every life is a loss to our military, to our nationand to the loved ones who grieve. There is no homecoming for thesefamilies. Yet we pray in God's time their reunion will come.
Those we lost were last seen on duty.
Their final act on this Earth was to fight a great eviland bring liberty to others.
All of you, all in this generation of our military, have taken upthe highest calling of history: You were defending your country andprotecting the innocent from harm.
And wherever you go, you carry a message of hope, a message thatis ancient and ever new. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, "To thecaptives, come out; and to those in darkness, be free."
Thank you for serving our country and our cause.
May God bless you all. And may God continue to bless America.