“I want to thank General Petraeus, and I want to thank all of you for allowing me the privilege of witnessing this ceremony. I can think of no place I would rather be on the day our country celebrates our independence than with you; you who have risked everything so that we remain free; free from fear and danger; free from the grave harm our enemies wish to inflict on us.
“I know it is not possible for even the most grateful nation to compensate you in kind for the measure of devotion you have, at great personal sacrifice, given our country. We have incurred a debt to you that we can never repay in full. We can offer you only the small tribute of our humility. You are the best Americans, and our best efforts to honor our debts to you will fall far short of what you have given and what you deserve. What you have done for us, we can never do for you. But we are mindful of that distinction, and humbled by it. And our appreciation for your service demands of us all to do what we can, in less trying and less costly circumstances, to help keep our nation a place and an idea worthy of the hardships, danger and sacrifices you have borne so valiantly for us.
“When a nation goes to war, a million tragedies ensue. It is terrible thing, war, but not the worst thing. You know that, you who have endured the dangers and deprivations of war so that the worst thing would not befall us, so that
“It is a sad and hard thing to ask so much more of Americans who have already given more than their fair share to the defense of our country. Yet the stakes in
“All of you surely miss your families. All of you would rather spend this holiday in your own towns and communities, among your loved ones and friends. Many of you have served multiple tours here or in
“It is a privilege beyond measure to live in a country served by you. I have lived a long, eventful and blessed life. I have had the good fortune of knowing personally a great many brave and selfless patriots who sacrificed and shed blood to defend their country. But I’ve none braver or better than you. You are my inspiration, and your country’s. I pray to a loving God that He bless and protect you. Thank you.”