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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Secretary of Defense Addresses Military Personnel at Whiteman Air Force Base

Aired October 19, 2001 - 16:14   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to go out to Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, Secretary Rumsfeld talking to personnel on the base there.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: ... how well you do it.

As you know, this base was named for one of the first American airmen killed in World War II, Lieutenant George Whiteman. A P-40 fighter he was flying took off on December 7, 1941, to defend Pearl Harbor. So it's fitting that from this base which bears his name, the U.S. is launching its response to the first strike on American territory since that attack on Pearl Harbor some 60 years ago.

We look back at that struggle of World War II and the sacrifice of so many brave Americans and we thank the good Lord for those who risked and those who gave their lives so that their fellow countrymen can live in freedom.

We've all heard that their called the greatest generation. But each generation of Americans has seen its own challenges and has met those challenges exceedingly well. And your generation now faces just such a challenge.

The terrorists who attacked our country on September 11, they did more than blow up our buildings or murder thousands of people. They declared war on our nation and on our way of life.

They attacked us because of what we are: Americans, free men and women proud of our country, proud of our country's cause, the cause of human freedom.

Their goal was to try to frighten us into altering the way we live, so that we can no longer walk out of our houses, free to go where we wish and say what we wish, knowing that our children would come home safely from school. They want us to respond by curtailing those freedoms that we enjoy as a people -- to withdraw.

So we really have two choices: Either we can change the way we live, or we must change the way that they live. And we chose the latter. And you're the ones who will help achieve that goal. Your mission is difficult, it's dangerous. Our enemies live in caves and in shadows. Finding them and rooting them out is no simple task. It takes patience, time and steadiness of purpose.

It's an amazing accomplishment what you folks do here each time a B-2 bomber lifts off from Missouri, crosses oceans, crosses continents, undetected, to deliver justice from the skies above Afghanistan.

The terrorists thought they could strike here in America's heartland, but through you the heartland strikes back.

The terrorists who visited this violence on America have made a mistake. They have awakened our nation to a new kind of evil, and in causing this awakening, they have assured their own destruction. Out of this act of terror and the awakening it brings, here and across the globe will surely come victory over terrorism.

People have asked, what do we mean by victory? Well, victory means liquidating the terrorist networks and putting them out of business. It means crippling the ability of terrorist organizations and the states that sponsor them across the globe to coerce our nation, to intimidate our people and to disrupt our way of life.

And victory means ensuring that Americans can continue to live as free people.

You serve voluntarily, each one of you, because you love your country. You know that your country knows this and is grateful for it, and indeed it is.

Grateful not only to you, but to your families. Enduring periods of worry and separation to support you, they also sacrifice and serve our country. We're proud of them and we're proud of you. And we have every confidence in your skill, your dedication and your ability to get the job done.

I'm delighted to be here to personally say that and to thank you for what you do for our country.

Thank you very much.

(APPLAUSE)

WOODRUFF: We're listening to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who is on a visit to Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. Sounds like he may be taking some questions. He's speaking to personnel on the base, presumably military, civilian and perhaps some family members. And in a little while, we're told in about a half an hour -- half an hour from now, he'll be talking to reporters and answering their questions.

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