These are the remarks from the Democratic response to the President’s weekly address, given by General Wesley Clark. The audio is available at the DNC website.
Good morning, I’m retired United States Army General Wesley Clark. This weekend across the country, we take time to remember those who fought and died in our Nation’s wars. For me, Memorial Day is very personal. This Monday, I will be remembering those in uniform who served in World War II and Korea and inspired me to enter military service in 1962.
Like many others of my generation, I will also be remembering the many times I visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. I will remember those who selflessly gave their lives and paid the ultimate price so that we could live in freedom.
And I’ll be remembering the names of so many other friends and school mates who fought alongside us. Together we kept our country free.
Today, America continues to face national security challenges. And as Democrats, we are resolved to meet those challenges and defend America from danger.
This starts with making sure that we have the right men and women in service and then equipping, training, and organizing them to be the most effective fighting force in the world.
That means our men and women in uniform should be paid fairly and they and their families should be taken care of while they are fighting overseas or serving at home. We should be spending every penny that they ask for on things like body armor and armored vehicles to keep them safe.
Our Armed Forces today are an institution that we can be proud to be of. They stand for so much of what we can believe in as Americans: for courage and honor, integrity and public service.
We as Democrats want to ensure that Americans in uniform receive the benefits they deserve. We insist that Reservists and National Guard members receive health insurance for themselves and their families through TRICARE, the military’s health care system, just as the active force does.
And just as importantly, we have got to keep our promises to veterans and provide them the medical care they need. That means fully funding the Veteran’s Administration system.
As Democrats, we stand for a strong Armed Forces and we stand for a strong foreign policy too. We believe in using every means at our disposal to protect our nation and to advance our values. That means using diplomacy, international law, allies, our economic might and yes, as a last resort, we’ll use force. But when we do so, we’ll do it the right way.
We’ll go in with a plan that works from start to finish and that gives us the power to prevail on the battlefield and after.
As Democrats, we know that we need to expand America’s active duty forces by tens of thousands so we can effectively fight the war on terror and meet other challenges as well. And, we’re committed to do so.
When it comes to taking care of men and women in uniform, I often read that some Members of Congress complain that the budget is too tight. But budgets are always tight and that’s no excuse to neglect the needs of those who serve; their families or America”s veterans.
It is just a matter of priorities. What could be more important for government than taking care of the men and women who keep our country safe and strong? I believe as Democrats, we have our priorities right.
And so on this Memorial Day, when the country comes together to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice, let’s say our prayers for the families and the loved ones of those who lost their lives in answering their country’s call.
Especially now, with our nation at war, I’m asking each and everyone one of us to reach out to these families across America. Tell them we honor their sacrifice. Tell them we stand with them. Tell them we love them. And, if it’s right, pray with them.
And then let’s do more. Let’s resolve this Memorial Day to do all we can here at home.
Those in uniform are bonded with is across this nation. That’s why we honor their sacrifice on Memorial Day and we should be resolved not to let them down.
Thank you for listening.