I was impressed, as well, to read the story of a 23-year-old Marine Corporal , Gareth Hawkins. He recently began his third deployment to Iraq , and several weeks ago he was injured in a roadside attack north of Baghdad . According to a news account, Corporal Hawkins "asked to complete one piece of unfinished business before being rushed via ambulance to undergo surgery at the hospital at the local Marine base. He wanted to reenlist for another four-year hitch." That's the kind of dedication that makes our whole nation proud. (Applause.)
In the war on terror we've again seen patience, precision, and determination among our forces. We've seen the finest traditions of the United States military. And we've seen examples of valor that will stand down through the ages -- and none of these is greater than that of Corporal Jason Dunham . Three years ago, while leading his rifle squad during an attack near the Syrian border, Corporal Dunham found himself in hand-to-hand combat with an insurgent. After being wrestled to the ground, the insurgent rolled out a grenade that he'd been concealing. Without hesitating, Corporal Dunham threw himself on the grenade and used his helmet and his body to absorb the blast. He was horribly wounded and died eight days later.
In an instant, this young man showed greater courage than the military or the nation has any right to expect from one man. But by his actions, Jason Dunham saved the lives of fellow Americans. He now ranks among the bravest citizens this nation has ever produced -- and earlier this year at the White House, President Bush presented Deb and Dan Dunham with the Medal of Honor earned by their son Jason, a United States Marine. (Applause.)
For some years now, many brave Americans have found inspiration in the Marine's prayer, with the words, "If I am inclined to doubt, steady my faith; if I am tempted, make me strong to resist; if I should miss the mark, give me courage to try again." The men and women of the Marine Corps have done more than defend this nation -- they have enhanced the character of this nation. Marines have been on the front lines of virtually every war, carrying out hundreds of successful missions on foreign shores. Marines have taken and held ground in some of the most perilous and desperate circumstances ever seen in warfare. And in their courage they have written some of the noblest chapters in military history. And so it is, once again, in this critical hour for our country.
War is an unpleasant business. It tires the soul of a nation and tests the will of its people. Yet Americans can hold our heads high, because the purposes our nation serves are good purposes. The United States is a decent, honorable, and a generous country -- and so are the people who wear its uniform. As we speak, ladies and gentlemen, members of the United States armed forces are serving in nearly 80 different countries -- from the broader Middle East , to Europe , to Southeast Asia, to Latin America, to Africa . Every day they confront the violent, protect the weak, heal the sick, and bring hope to the oppressed. We live in a messy, dangerous world -- but this world is a far better place than it would be without the active, committed presence of the United States . Our cause is freedom. That cause is right. And by the valor of those who serve it, that cause will prevail.
God bless the Marines. Semper Fi. (Applause.)
END 10:52 P.M. MDT
SOURCE White House Press Office