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Bush Urges Prayers for US Troops - 2003-04-19

U. S. President George W. Bush is urging all Americans to pray for U.S. troops abroad, as Christians celebrate Easter and Jews continue the observance of Passover. In his weekly radio address, Mr. Bush spoke of the importance of faith and prayer.

The president says this holiday season has a special meaning for those whose loved ones are far away. "More than 250,000 American troops are serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom to protect our security and to free an oppressed people," the president said. "Their families await their safe return, and our grateful nation remembers them in prayer."

In his radio address, Mr. Bush made special mention of the seven American prisoners of war, rescued just days ago in northern Iraq. He said the American people share in their happiness. "Thanks to the courage of our Marines and the help of Iraqis, their families have even more reason to celebrate this weekend," he said.

But the president also spoke of military families that are in mourning, and those whose loved ones still face danger. "As a nation, we continue to pray for all who serve in our military and those who remain in harm's way," he said. "We also pray for those who have lost people they love in this war. I have met with some of these grieving families, and I have seen their sorrow and their strength."

Mr. Bush said America grieves for all those lost in combat, and hopes that their families will find comfort and God's grace. "His purposes are not always clear to us, yet this season brings a promise: that good can come out of evil, that hope can arise from despair, and that all our grief will someday turn to joy, a joy that can never be taken away," he said.

The president delivered his weekly radio address from his Texas ranch, where he is spending a long holiday weekend with members of his immediate family. On Sunday, he will make a quick helicopter trip to a nearby army base to attend church services with soldiers and their families.

Fort Hood, Texas has sent about 20,000 of its men and women to Iraq. It is the home base of two of the freed prisoners of war, who were set to return this weekend.