After six hours in the control tower as the supervisor of flying (SOF), I arrived in the mess hall to eat breakfast. As soon as I finished, I walked into the lounge to watch President Bush deliver his State of the Union address:
For two centuries, we've done the hard work for freedom. And tonight, we lead the world in facing down the threat to decency and humanity. Saddam Hussein's unprovoked invasion - his ruthless, systematic rape of a
peaceful neighbor - violated everything the community of nations holds dear. The world has said this aggression would not stand - and it will not stand.
At this point, everyone in the chamber interrupted the president's speech with a standing ovation. I've never felt such a deep sense of patriotism in all my life. The president continued:
There is no one more devoted, more committed to the hard work of freedom, than every soldier and sailor,
every marine, airman, and coast guardsman - every man and woman now serving in the Persian Gulf. Each of them has volunteered to provide for this nation's defense - and now they bravely struggle to earn for America, for the world, and for future generations, a just and lasting peace. Our commitment to them must be equal of their commitment to their country. They are truly America's finest.
Once again, the president's address was interrupted with
applause. I glanced at others in the lounge as the ovation continued. Everyone gleamed with pride.
Our purpose in the Persian Gulf remains constant: to drive Iraq out of Kuwait, to restore Kuwait's legitimate government, and to ensure the stability and security of this critical region.
Let me make clear what I mean by the region's stability and security. We do not seek the destruction of Iraq, its culture, or its people. Rather, we seek an
Iraq that uses its great resources, not to destroy, not to serve the ambitions of a tyrant, but to build a better life for itself and its neighbors. We seek a Persian Gulf where conflict is no longer the rule, where the strong are neither tempted nor able to intimidate the weak.