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Bush Pays Tribute to US Troops - 2003-07-05

President Bush paid tribute to U.S. troops this Independence Day holiday weekend, saying people around the world depend on their efforts to fight terrorism.

President Bush used his weekly radio address to praise the men and women of the U.S. armed forces, saying millions of people across the world are free today because of what he calls "the unselfish courage of America's veterans."

Mr. Bush says all who live in tyranny and all who yearn for freedom place their hopes in the United States.

"Without America's active involvement in the world, the ambitions of tyrants would go unopposed, and millions would live at the mercy of terrorists. With America's active involvement in the world, tyrants have learned to fear, and terrorists are on the run," said President Bush.

He says the nation is grateful for the sacrifices of military families, as the current generation of soldiers face what he calls "the threats of a new era," fighting new battles in the war on terrorism.

"On this Fourth of July weekend, we also remember the brave Americans we've lost in Afghanistan and Iraq," he said. " We honor each one for their courage and sacrifice. We think of the families who miss them so much. And we are thankful that this nation produces such fine men and women, who are willing to defend us all."

In the Democratic response to the president's radio address, Texas Congressman Ciro Rodriguez said the government should do more to support military families by improving health care for disabled and retired veterans.

"These veterans have made tremendous sacrifices to guarantee the safety and security of America," said Cogressman Rodriguez. "We should honor their bravery by compensating them, both for the time they serve and for the disabilities they incurred while serving their country."

Mr. Rodriguez says Congressional Democrats want to extend education benefits to military reservists and include more low-income families in the president's tax cuts.

He says the Republican plan unfairly favors the wealthy by making service men and women who earn less than $26,000 a year ineligible for new child tax credits.

"The Republicans failed to extend the child tax credit to [all] military families," he said. "That hurts more than 250,000 children of military personnel, many of whom are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan."

President Bush has called on Congressional Republicans to extend the child tax credits to more low-income families. Republican legislators want to link that with additional tax breaks for wealthier Americans.