The president and Mrs. Bush have visited with U.S. troops wounded in the fight against terrorism. Bush has again said that the mission overseas makes Americans safer at home.
In a holiday visit to wounded troops at the National Naval Medical Center outside Washington, President Bush thanked doctors and nurses for their compassion and skill in caring for those wounded in the nation's defense.
President Bush awarded Purple Hearts to five Marines during the visit, speaking with troops in the intensive care unit and meeting with others and their families at a recovery center.
He said the task at hand in the fight against terrorism requires determination and discipline as well as great faith in what he calls the ideals of human freedom and human liberty.
"It is a time when this nation of ours is facing unbelievable challenges," said Mr. Bush. "There is an enemy that still lurks, that wants to bring harm to the American people. And we've got to do everything in our power to protect the American people. That is our solemn duty. There is a fantastic opportunity, as we defeat this enemy, to lay the foundation for peace for generations to come."
The president again said Iraq is making steady progress toward democracy and predicted that one day an American president will sit down with a duly elected leader of Iraq to help keep the peace. He said future generations will one day thank God that this generation of Americans stood up for what they believe in.
The president is continuing to talk about Iraq following last week's vote for a new national assembly. He is urging Americans and Iraqis to be patient ahead of final results expected next month.