the Military Personnel at Travis Air Force Base
Travis Air Force Base, California
October 17, 2001
1:30 P.M. PDT
Thank you all very much. I appreciate such a warm welcome. I'm about to cross
the Pacific on my favorite Air Force airplane. (Applause.) And there's really
only one place to leave from -- that's called the Gateway to the Pacific. (Applause.)
Thank you for your hospitality. I can't tell you how proud I am to be with the
men and women who wear the uniform of the great United States of America. (Applause.)
I want to thank the Air Force and the Army and the Navy troops who are here.
I'm also proud to be with the husbands and wives and sons and daughters -- (applause.)
And to the families of those of you whose mom or dad or husband or wife have
been deployed, I want you to know that they're on a noble mission. The cause
is just, and we will win. (Applause.)
I want to thank "Lone Star" Lefforge for the introduction. (Applause.)
My fellow Texan. (Applause.) There may be a few other Texans here, as well.
(Applause.) I want to thank General Becker and Colonel Rubeor, as well, for
your hospitality. Thank you, Colonel. Thank you, General, very much.
And I want to thank the Air Force Band of the Golden West. Thank you all for
your entertainment. (Applause.) I want to thank the state and local officials
who have come today. I'm honored that you took time out of your day.
The planes to the left and right of where we stand here represent the unmatched
air power of the United States. (Applause.) But that's not our real strength.
Our real strength are the people who fly them, and who maintain them, the people
who make the military go. (Applause.) The real strength of this proud nation
are the men and women who wear the uniform. That's the real strength of this
You're among the first to be deployed in America's new war against terror and
against evil, and I want you to know, America is proud -- proud of your deeds,
proud of your talents, proud of your service to our country.
I'm told that one of the pilots here, a fellow named Randy, was asked if anyone
at Travis had personal connections to any of the victims of the attacks on September
the 11th. And here's what he said: I think we all do; they're all Americans.
(Applause.) When you strike one American, you strike us all. (Applause.)
The victims of September 11th were innocent, and this nation will never forget
them. The men and women who murdered them were instruments of evil, and they
have died in vain. This nation is strong. This nation is united. This nation
is resolved. This nation will defeat terror wherever we find it across the globe.
And not only will we find the terrorists, we will enforce the doctrine that
says if you harbor a terrorist, you're a terrorist. (Applause.) If you feed
a terrorist, if you fund a terrorist, you're a terrorist. And this great, proud
nation of free men and women will hold you just as responsible for the actions
that take place on American soil. (Applause.)
And that's what's happening in Afghanistan. I gave the people in Afghanistan
a choice. I said to the Taliban, turn them over, destroy the camps, free people
you're unjustly holding. I said, you've got time to do it. But they didn't listen.
They didn't respond, and now they're paying a price. (Applause.) They are learning
that anyone who strikes America will hear from our military, and they're not
going to like what they hear. (Applause.) In choosing their enemy, the evildoers
and those who harbor them have chosen their fate.
We don't quarrel with the innocent folks of Afghanistan; they're not our enemy.
Nor is any religion the enemy of the United States of America. The evil ones
have tried to hijack a religion to justify their murder. But I want to assure
the people of the world that our military fights not against Muslims or fights
not against the Islam religion; we fight against evil people. We fight against
people who believe that they can harm the United States of America. We fight
against people who have no country, no ideology; they're motivated by hate.
And make no mistake about it; this great nation will do what it takes to win.
We are determined. We are patient. We are steadfast. We are resolved. We will
not tire and we will not fail. (Applause.)
And we're making progress. We're making progress. The terrorist camps are being
destroyed. The enemy's air force and air defenses are being demolished. We're
paving the way for friendly troops on the ground to slowly, but surely, tighten
the net to bring them to justice.
I can't tell you how proud as Commander-in-Chief I am to know that we've got
a great United States military backing our nation. (Applause.) A Commander-in-Chief
must know he can count on the skill and resolve of our military. And from Secretary
Rumsfeld to General Myers to the good troops of this base, I have all the confidence
in the world that our military will fulfill its mission. (Applause.)
And you must have confidence in this, my commitment: that for the mission that
lies ahead, our military, the men and women who wear our uniform, will have
everything you need to win -- (applause) -- every resource, every weapon, every
means to assure full victory for the United States and our allies and our friends
in the cause of freedom. (Applause.)
There is no question that we're inflicting pain upon the Taliban government.
There is also no question that we're a compassionate nation; at the same time
we do so, we're dropping airlifts of food and medicine, so the innocent citizens
of that country can survive the brutal winter.
As I walked up, I saw some of the schoolchildren here holding dollar bills.
We've got schoolchildren all across the country out raising a dollar to send
to the children of Afghanistan. We've got boys and girls from all religions
and all walks of life who have heard the call to love a neighbor just as they'd
like to be loved themselves.
The evildoers have struck our nation, but out of evil comes good. We are a good,
kind-hearted, decent people, and we're showing the world just that in our compassion
and our resolve. (Applause.)
And one thing I fully understand is that when American forces answer the call
of duty, they count on their families for support and encouragement. Every deployment
brings uncertainty and, I know, every deployment brings worry and concern. Our
military is made up of brave men and women, and brave families, as well.
Recently, a four-year-old son of a cargo specialist said good-bye to his Dad
here at Travis. And according to his Mom, the boy has been telling the neighbors
that "Daddy is saving the world." (Applause.)
The boy is right. The boy is right. The future of the world is at stake. Freedom
is at stake. But I want to tell that boy his Daddy has got plenty of help. There
are a lot of people like his Daddy fighting this war. We fight it overseas and
we fight it at home, as well.
We must be steadfast. We must be resolved. We must not let the terrorists cause
our nation to stop traveling, to stop buying, to stop living ordinary lives.
We can be alert and we will be alert, but we must show them that they cannot
terrorize the greatest nation on the face of the Earth. And we won't. We will
not be terrorized, we will not be cowed.
We've got a homeland security that's strong. I want to tell the moms and dads
here that we're doing everything we can to find them and disrupt them and stop
them, if they happen to try to strike on American soil. We're strong at home.
We're active at home. But make no mistake about it; the best homeland defense
is to find them and bring them to justice -- and that's exactly what our nation
will do. (Applause.)
Now that they got the plane fueled up, I'm heading over to China. Of course,
we'll talk about economics and trade. But the main thing that will be on my
mind is to continue to rally the world against terrorists; is to remind people
that it happened to us, sure, but it could happen to them, as well; is to remind
them that evil knows no borders, no boundaries, and to remind them that we must
take a stand; that those of us who have been given the responsibility of high
office must not shirk from our duty; that now is the time to claim freedom for
The people have struck us. They've tested our mettle and tested our character.
But they are going to find that this nation understands we've reached a pivotal
moment in history, where we will plant our flag on the ground -- a flag that
stands for freedom -- and say to anybody who wants to harm us or our friends
or allies, you will pay a serious price, because we're a nation that is strong
and resolved and united. (Applause.)
You all are here to serve your country, and your country is grateful. You have
confidence in America. But make no mistake about it; America has confidence
Thank you all for such a warm greeting. May God bless -- (applause) -- may God
bless the men and women who wear our uniform. May God protect this great land.
And may God bless America. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)