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Bush, Democrats Salute America's Armed Forces


U.S. President George Bush and opposition Democrats are both paying tribute to America's armed forces, as part of the celebration of the nation's 232nd anniversary. VOA's Kent Klein reports from Washington.

On this Independence Day weekend, President Bush used his weekly radio address Saturday to thank the people who serve in the U.S. armed forces.

"In places like Afghanistan and Iraq, many risk their lives every day to protect America and uphold the principle that human freedom is the birthright of all people and a gift from the Almighty," the president said. "These brave Americans make it possible for America to endure as a free society."

As part of his tribute, Mr. Bush recalled the words written by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence.

"Two hundred and thirty-two years ago, our Founding Fathers came together in Philadelphia to proclaim that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," he said.

In the Democratic Party response, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois also used the writings of the Founding Fathers to salute the armed forces. He quoted from a letter written by John Adams to his wife Abigail.

"He wrote, 'Posterity, you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom.' 'I hope,' he added, 'you will make good use of it,'" Senator Durbin said. "On this Fourth of July weekend, as we celebrate our nation's independence, we can be proud that the generations of Americans who followed John Adams have preserved and expanded our heritage of freedom. Today, women and African-Americans can not only vote for president, they can run for president. That is progress that would have astonished John, maybe even Abigail, Adams."

On another topic, Durbin criticized the Republican minority in the U.S. Senate, saying it has held up progress on numerous issues.

"They have now shattered the record for the highest number of filibusters in history," he said. "Filibusters, of course, are the age-old procedural obstacles used to slow down or stop the Senate from debating and voting. Now, before this Congress, the record was 57 filibusters in a two-year period of time. This Republican leadership has waged 78 filibusters, and we still have six months to go."

Durbin also called on Republicans to support a bill to prevent a cut in federal health care payments to doctors.

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