|President Bush speaks to troops at Fort Hood, Texas|
On the day Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld made a surprise trip to Baghdad, President Bush went to Fort Hood, one of the largest military bases in the United States.
The president's goal was two-fold: to boost the morale of U.S. troops headed to Iraq, and to thank those who have returned home for their courage and sacrifice.
"Whether you are coming or going, you are making an enormous difference for the security of our nation and for the peace of the world," he said.
The reception at the base was enthusiastic, with 25,000 cheering, flag-waving troops gathered to hear their commander-in-chief. He said they have good reason to be proud of their achievements.
"The terrorists have made Iraq a central front of the war on terror," he said. "Because of your service, because of your sacrifice, we are defeating them there where they live, so we do not have to face them where we live."
The president noted that units from Fort Hood have served in Iraq since the beginning of the war, and were present two years ago, on April 9, 2003, when a statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled in Baghdad.
"The toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad will be recorded alongside the fall of the Berlin Wall, as one of the great moments in the history of liberty," he said.
The president said much has happened since then - Saddam Hussein is in a prison cell, and the Iraqis are building a free nation where they can govern themselves and provide their own security. He said, once that happens, American troops can come home with the honor they deserve.