Following is the transcript of President Bush's speech to the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Cincinnati:
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you all very much. Thanks for the warm welcome. And thanks for inviting me for your 105th national convention. I'm proud to be here.
One of the great honors of being commander in chief is meeting the courageous men and women who stand watch for freedom. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to look them in the eye and say on behalf of our country, "Thank you for your service."
The same is true of each of you here today. When the enemies of freedom were on the march and our country and the world needed brave Americans to take up arms and stop their advance, you stepped forward to serve. And today I'm proud to stand before you as commander in chief, look you in the eye, and say, "America thanks you for your service."
I want to thank Ed Banas for his service in being an effective commander of the VFW. I appreciate the job he's done. And I want to thank his wife, Sandra, for standing by his side during this important time for the VFW.
BUSH: Ed, thank you, sir, for your service.
I also thank my friend Bob Wallace, the executive director of the VFW.
I want to thank Governor Bob Taft for joining us today from the state of Ohio.
My friend Tony Principi, I'll say something about him here in a minute.
And Congressman Rob Portman, congressman from Ohio is with us as well.
I am honored that these elected officials and, in Principi's case, appointed official, is with us today.
I want to thank Jim Furgess, the incoming VFW national commander in chief and Alma.
I want to thank Evelyn McCune, the VFW Ladies Auxiliary national president and her husband Don.
I want to thank Joanne Ott (ph).
I want to thank the VFW and Ladies Auxiliary members for letting me come and address you.
In the audience today are two people I've gotten to know during a very traumatic period during their lives. Carolyn and Keith Maupin are with us today, they're from this part of the world. Their son Matt has been missing in action for four months in Iraq. I have vowed to them we will do everything we can to find their loved one, Matt. I appreciate their courage. I continue to send my prayers to these two fine Americans during these difficult times for them.
May God bless you, Keith and Carolyn.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars have always stood up for our nation and those who wear the uniform. Since your founding in 1899, the members of the VFW have been serving the men and women who served America. I appreciate your dedication.
The VFW and its Ladies Auxiliary are volunteering by transporting sick and disabled vets to and from their medical appointments.
You're showing great compassion.
You're supporting the men and women who serve today. Some 1,500 VFW posts have adopted military units deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq and other distant theaters. You've distributed more than 3.5 million prepaid calling cards to our deployed forces. You've sent thousands of care packages to our troops in the field. You've helped the families back home with groceries and home repairs and other necessities.