[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: George H. W. Bush (1991, Book I)]
[February 1, 1991]
[Pages 94-96]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks to Community Members at Fort Stewart, Georgia
February 1, 1991

    Thank you for that great welcome. Jill--Jill McCaffrey--it is my
great pleasure to be here and to meet with you. Barbara and I met the 
commanding general--met Jill's husband, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, and many 
of his troops, many of your loved ones--and we shared a meal with them 
on Thanksgiving Day. And it was special, and we Bushes

[[Page 95]]

will never forget it. And the food wasn't bad, either. [Laughter] But 
I'll tell you, the morale was great.
    I want to salute General Burba, thank him for his leadership in this 
most important command of his. I want to salute and pay my respects to 
these two Senators from this State in which this installation is 
located--Senator Nunn, chairman of our Armed Services Committee; Senator 
Wyche Fowler--and of course, your own Congressman from this district 
who's been so supportive of everything all of you are involved in, 
Congressman Thomas. To the new Governor of this great State, Governor 
Miller, who is with us today, my respects. And Colonel Lucas, thank you, 
sir, for your prayers. And Colonel Frank Miller, if you can sing like 
your wife does, why, you guys ought to go on the road. [Laughter] But I 
think I've mentioned everybody but Beetle Bailey here. [Laughter]
    But nevertheless, it is indeed a real pleasure to meet with you. 
I've heard a lot from Colonel Miller and others about Hinesville, and I 
heard a lot out in the Saudi desert--you can believe me--about all of 
you, the Fort Stewart family. I came down here to thank you on behalf of 
a grateful nation for your steadfast service and sacrifice because when 
proud men and women of Fort Stewart and Hunter Field put it all on the 
line, every one of you is right there with them.
    In times of trial, we fall back on faith and on family--what a wise 
man once called the ``little platoons'' to which we all belong--the 
little platoons that provide the 24th Infantry Division with its 
fighting spirit and its staying power.
    Right now, it's night in Saudi Arabia. The soldiers from Fort 
Stewart are on duty, 1 more day in more than 5 long months away from 
home. Our thoughts are with them, day and night--America's finest, 
standing against an aggressor who must be stopped, standing up for the 
best--all that is best in us. Because those men and women know and you 
know--we all know that when the forces of aggression take up arms, 
America cannot look the other way.
    It began with Kuwait, but that wouldn't have been the end. What 
we've witnessed these last few weeks removed any last shred of doubt 
about the adversary that we face: the terror bombing, without military 
value--the terror bombing of innocent civilians with those Scud 
missiles; the brutal treatment--that brutal, inhumane treatment of our 
POW's; the endless appetite for evil that would lead a man to make war 
on the world's environment. All of us know what we're up against. All of 
you know why we're there.
    We are there because we are Americans, part of something that's 
larger than ourselves. Our cause is right. Our cause is just. And 
because it is just, that world's cause will prevail.
    And when we win--and we will--we will have taught a dangerous 
dictator and any tyrant tempted to follow in his footsteps that the U.S. 
has a new credibility, and that what we say goes, and that there is no 
place for lawless aggression in the Persian Gulf and in this new world 
order that we seek to create. And we mean it. And he will understand 
that when the day is done.
    I know that all of you--especially all of you--are anxious to know 
if and when a ground operation might begin. Let me tell you now, it will 
only begin if necessary and when we decide that the time is right. We 
will conduct this conflict on our terms, on our timetable, not on Saddam 
Hussein's timetable.
    Let me assure you that Desert Storm is right on course. Our 
training, our investment, our planning are all paying off. American and 
allied forces are systematically destroying Iraq's capacity to wage war.
    Every member of the 24th Infantry Division is part of a fighting 
tradition stretching back some 50 years. Back in November, when I met 
with the men and women of the 24th, I told them about the last 
Thanksgiving that I had spent so far away from home. It was on a ship 
off the Philippine coast back in 1944. The 24th was there, fighting to 
take Red Beach on Leyte Island in the campaign that earned the 24th the 
nickname it so proudly bears today: the ``Victory'' Division.
    And back then, those--close to 50 years ago--Franklin Delano 
Roosevelt sent a cable out to General MacArthur and the 24th Division, a 
message that--very short--I'd like to read it to you today. FDR wrote

[[Page 96]]

them: ``You have the Nation's gratitude, and the Nation's prayers for 
success, as you and your men fight your way back.''
    And now, many years later, once more the 24th is in the front lines, 
far from home. Once more, the Nation's prayers and the Nation's pride 
are with the 24th and all the brave men and women of Desert Storm.
    I don't know whether it was Jill, but somebody told me about the 
send-off back in August, when the 24th was among the first to deploy to 
Saudi Arabia--the way the people of Hinesville and the other towns near 
here lined not just the streets around Fort Stewart but lined the 
interstate all the way up I-95 to Hunter Field and Savannah. What a 
sight that must have been to the proud soldiers of Fort Stewart.
    And let me say to all the children here with parents that are 
serving over there in the Gulf, keep in mind that no matter how much you 
depend on your parents, your country depends on them, too. And you've 
read at school about the great generals and some of the Presidents--all 
about American history and American heroes. Well, you see, that's just 
part of the great story about our country because your moms and dads are 
the heroes, too, doing the hard work of freedom right now, half a world 
    I know it's been tough. It may get tougher. We've got three of the 
Walker kids here somewhere: Michael, Sioban, and their little brother, 
Martin. Their mom and dad are both now serving in Saudi Arabia, and 
they've been living with their babysitter, Ida Sanders. Eddie and 
Brandon Bowman are here; their dad went over in August, and their mom in 
November. Eddie and Brandon are staying with a friend of their family, 
Reggie Bray, whose wife was called up in the Reserves. I know at times 
like this the Fort Stewart family draws together, just gets tighter; 
everyone pulls together, the way a family always does.
    And so, to all you kids, let me say: Be proud, and stay strong. 
Don't be afraid to ask family friends or your teachers at school to help 
you when things get tough. And know that we're doing everything we can 
to make sure your parents have the best possible support to get the job 
done and get every man and woman of the fighting 24th back home, safe 
and sound, just as soon as possible. That is my goal as your Commander 
in Chief.
    With those brave young men and women in mind, let this nation come 
together this Sunday--day after tomorrow--on a day that will be our 
National Day of Prayer. We are, you see, one nation under God. And we 
will pray for the safety of every American and allied serviceman and 
servicewoman, for every innocent caught up in this terrible conflict, 
and for our POW's and for our MIA's. And may all of our troops be safe 
and sound until the families of Fort Stewart are united once again.
    Thank you once again for this warm welcome and for all your support. 
And let me tell you what I told some of the wives that are supporting in 
this support group. When I got on Air Force One this morning, I heard 
one of the television commentators say, ``Well, the President is going 
to three different places to help with the morale.'' And, you see, it's 
been just the other way around. I've got good morale. But I'll tell you, 
I'm going on home to see Barbara with my morale sky-high because of the 
fantastic spirit of the families that are giving their all-out support 
to the finest fighting men and women that the world has ever seen.
    God bless you all, and God bless the United States. Thank you very, 
very much.

                    Note: The President spoke at 3:47 p.m. on Cottrel 
                        Field at Fort Stewart. In his remarks, he 
                        referred to Jill McCaffrey, wife of Maj. Gen. 
                        Barry R. McCaffrey, commanding general, 24th 
                        Infantry Division Mechanized; Gen. Edwin H. 
                        Burba, Jr., commander in chief, Forces Command; 
                        Senators Sam Nunn and Wyche Fowler, Jr.; 
                        Representative Robert Lindsay Thomas; Gov. Zell 
                        Miller of Georgia; Col. Thomas L. Lucas, 
                        installation chaplain; and Col. Frank D. Miller, 
                        installation commander, and his wife, Joan. 
                        Prior to his remarks, the President attended a 
                        reception with spouses of deployed personnel. 
                        Following his remarks, he traveled to Hobe 
                        Sound, FL, to visit his mother. Later in the 
                        evening, the President traveled to Camp David, 
                        MD, for the weekend.