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Bush Thanks US Soldiers for their Courage - 2003-12-27


President Bush says Americans appreciate the sacrifices made by U.S. troops serving overseas during the holidays.

President Bush says U.S. soldiers fighting terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq are meeting threats abroad so those terrorists don't strike in the United States.

Mr. Bush said the Christmas season comes at a time of great challenge for America as U.S. troops are defending freedom around the world. For that, he stressed that the nation is grateful for their courage and safer because of their sacrifice.

"Separation from loved ones is always difficult, especially at this time of year," he said. "All our men and women serving abroad can know that their families miss them, millions are praying for them, and their nation is proud of them."

The president also thanked volunteers for giving their time to a cause greater than themselves, spreading hope to make the nation better one life at a time.

"We think of those among us who spend the holidays in sadness or solitude," he said. "We think of those facing illness, or the loss of a loved one, or the hardships of poverty or unemployment. And across our country, caring citizens are reaching out to those in need by volunteering their time."

In the Democratic radio address, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack gave a similar tribute to U.S. troops serving overseas. He criticized President Bush and Republican leadership in Congress for refusing to extend unemployment benefits.

"In the last three years, nearly three million jobs have been lost and the number of people looking for work for more than six months has tripled, yet last week, the administration and Republicans in Congress allowed emergency federal unemployment benefits to expire, notwithstanding Democrats' repeated attempts to extend the benefits," he said.

Governor Vilsack added that until the president has a plan to put people back to work, he should extend federal unemployment benefits for another six months.

The president says he does have a plan for putting people back to work by cutting taxes so businesses will have more money to hire more workers. Mr. Bush says those tax cuts are also stimulating the economy, leading to greater consumer demand for more products that will also lead to more jobs.

The state of the economy and the war in Iraq are expected to be the biggest issues in the president's campaign for re-election next year.

Mr. and Mrs. Bush are at their Texas ranch where they are spending part of the holidays. They return to the White House the weekend after New Year's.

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