Today was the beginning of the Wounded Warrior Project Soldier Ride. Prior to the ride, President Bush addressed the crowd. Thought you might want to read what he said.
We are very fortunate to have a Commander-in-Chief who truly supports the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States. His support of the troops is palpable to anyone who has had the privilege of hearing him! Good on him for recognizing the recovering heroes in this manner! We can all be so incredibly proud of the service members who show how much chutzpa our troops have!
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
TO MEMBERS OF WOUNDEDWARRIOR SOLDIER RIDE
THE PRESIDENT: Thanks for coming. Doocy, thanksfor the introduction. This has got to be one of the most inspiring athleticevents in our nation's history. At least it is for me, and I hope it is foryou.
I was going to ride with the guys today, but Lauratold me I probably wouldn't be able to keep up. (Laughter.) There is no doubtin my mind the people behind me are some of the most bravest people in ourcountry's history. I admire their courage; I admire their determination. (Applause.) We're honored to have you here.
I'm also joined by the Secretary of State,Condoleezza Rice. Thank you for coming, Madam Secretary. (Applause.) Secretary Jim Peake of the Department of Veterans Affairs is with us. DeputySecretary Gordon England is with us. Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the JointChiefs are here. Other members of my administration and members of Congress. The reason they're there is the same reason I'm here -- we love and respect ourmilitary. And I thank you for coming. (Applause.)
I want to thank Granger Smith and the Band forjoining us today. Thanks for being here. I appreciate those who wear theuniform who have joined us. I'm proud of you. Thanks for serving. I want tothank the Wounded Warriors. I want to thank their care-givers from Walter Reedand Bethesda. I appreciate the members of the Wounded Warrior Project, and Iwant to thank the family members and friends who are here today. Welcome to theWhite House. (Applause.)
Four years ago, Chris Carney decided to ridecoast-to-coast to raise awareness and money for our wounded warriors. In thefirst year he biked more than 5,000 miles, from Long Island to the PacificOcean, and raised more than a million dollars for the Wounded Warrior Project. He started what's called the annual Soldier Ride.
The next year, wounded vets started coming along. In 2006, 75 wounded warriors took turns riding portions of the cross-countryjourney. These servicemen and women rode to raise money for their fellowsoldiers, including those who were hurt too much to ride. And they also rode toshow themselves what they could do, and in so doing, they showed the world whatthey could do.
Americans came out to cheer. More soldiers andsupporters came out to ride. More Americans then came out to show theirsupport. So the Soldier Ride started doing different races around the countryso even more of our citizens could participate. Today hundreds of people havegathered here on the South Lawn to kick off this ride, and I want to thank youall for being here. (Applause.)
The three-day bike ride you're starting today atthe White House says a lot. It says that you're showing that even when you'rewounded, you're not done fighting. One of the riders today is Marine CorporalChad Watson. I've gotten to know Chad. I met him when I was at Walter Reedthree weeks after his Humvee was hit with an IED on patrol in Fallujah. He losthis right leg, he shattered his left ankle and foot, he took shrapnel to hisface. And when I went into his room, he wanted to stand at attention and shakehands with the Commander-in-Chief, as well as salute.
He got up to his walker. His daddy helped him andso did his brother. He held himself upright with his arm strength while afellow Marine read his accommodation, and I had the honor of giving him thePurple Heart.
I told him to sit down. He didn't want to. He wasa Marine. (Applause.) And now he's here. He's got a new leg, and thanks tothat leg, Chad will be able to start on even a greater journey than the one hebegins today -- this summer he's going to walk down the aisle to get married tohis beautiful bride. (Applause.) We're glad you're here.
The technology that you're witnessing today ishelping our troops regain their lives, and it's state of the art, and that's theway it should be. We owe those who wear the uniform all the support they canpossibly have. We'll give them the best medical care, and for the docs andnurses here, there's no doubt in my mind our troops get the best medical carepossible.
We owe them the best prosthesis, and if there's anew advance, it will be made available for our folks. We owe them a VeteransHealth Administration that's seamless and works well. We owe them ourthanks.
These service members are focused on what you haveto give than what you've lost. I appreciate the spirit of those in the SoldierRide.
I thank my fellow citizens for supporting ourtroops. I appreciate the fact that the families have stood by those who wearthe uniform. I appreciate your loved ones who are here today to cheer you on. The riders represent the spirit of the strongest military in the world, and thegreatest country on Earth. I'm thankful that we have brave men and women likeyou who step forward to protect America. I'm proud to be yourCommander-in-Chief.
And now let us get started. God bless you. (Applause.)