KNOXVILLE, TENN., SEPT. 12 -- The letter from a soldier cited by President Bush as a symbol of patriotism included passages that Bush did not mention in his nationally televised address Tuesday night.
"As much as I love my job," Army Pfc. Wade Merritt wrote, "I don't believe in war or the unnecessary acts of violence against fellow human beings, but it is my job."
Merritt, 26, shipped to Saudi Arabia Aug. 19, told his parents in the letter Aug. 5, "When I made a decision to make the Army my career, I knew this day would come, but I was hoping it wouldn't."
In his speech, Bush cited Merritt as a symbol of patriotism and read from his letter, "I am proud of my country and its firm stand against inhumane aggression. I am proud of my Army and its men. . . . I am proud to serve my country."
Merritt's mother, Ann, of Knoxville, sent the letter to the White House at the prompting of a neighbor. The family was notified Tuesday by the White House that the letter would be included in the president's remarks. They gathered around the TV set to watch the speech, and then found themselves on television today being interviewed by the network talk shows.
"It is not inconsistent with the president's message," Alixe Glen, a White House spokeswoman, said of the letter today.