THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN CHRISTMAS EVE MESSAGE TO THE TROOPS IN BOSNIA
The Oval Office
THE PRESIDENT: Merry Christmas, and best wishes to all of you on this Christmas Eve. I am honored to speak today to the men and women of Operation Joint Endeavor -- in Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary and Italy; on ships at sea and skies overhead; and those preparing to deploy. I know that all around the world Americans who wear our nation's uniform are listening, and I want to wish all of them well, just as I know they wish you well as you embark on this historic mission.
With me today are the families of seven Americans serving in and around Bosnia: Lieutenant Colonel Bob Norman of the 621st Air Mobility Control Squadron in Tuzla; Command Master Chief Jim Sirles on the USS America in the Adriatic; Sergeant William LeBright of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit on board the USS Whidbey Island; Warrant Officer Willie Wade with the 586th Assault Bridge Company; Lieutenant Colonel O'Malley Smith of the 353rd Civil Affairs Group; Sergeant Mark Ackerman with the 114th Public Affairs Detachment; and Linda Carsey, an Army Civilian Contract Specialist on her way to Tuzla.
These families here remind us all of the Americans we're sending to Bosnia. They're leaving their families behind. And many of them are already far from their loved ones this Christmas Eve. I want to extend a special greeting to those families today. I know that when we call on our troops to protect America's interests and values, we also call on their families. Their families' special sacrifice may not make the headlines, but we could not be successful without it, for as our troops stand up on America's behalf, it is their families who stand behind them, who keep them strong with confidence, support and love.
These thoughts are especially close in our minds this time of year. As Americans come together in this season of peace, we know that you, the men and women of Operation Joint Endeavor, are serving on a mission of peace, the noblest mission of all. The pride your families have in each of you is shared by all your fellow Americans all across our nation.
Ten days ago in Paris, the presidents of Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia signed an agreement that turns their troubled region from war to peace. Our nation has an important interest in seeing that peace take hold for the people of Bosnia, who have suffered so much for so long; for the stability of Europe, which is so crucial to our own stability; and for the safer, stronger world we want to leave for our children.
There is too much at stake in Bosnia today for our nation to sit on the sidelines, and that's why we've turned to you, our men and women in uniform. You provide us with the power to meet threats to our security. You have the strength to bring hope and stability to people exhausted by war. We know, and the people of Bosnia know, that you will get the job done and that you will do it right.
Each side there wants NATO to help them safeguard the peace they have agreed to make, and to help them live up to their commitments to one another. They trust you to create a secure environment so they can seize this chance to rebuild their lives and their land. They see in you how much can be achieved when people find strength in their diversity. That is the power of America's example.
I know this will be a demanding mission, but I know, too, that you are up to the task. General Joulwan and General Nash have assured me of that. And I have seen it for myself.
Earlier this month, I visited with the men and women of Task Force Eagle in Germany. I saw in them the qualities that all of you share, the qualities that have earned our nation the respect and trust of the entire world. Your training, equipment and preparation are unequalled. Your reputation precedes you. The most advanced technology protects you. But just as important, you are strong in your character. Time and again, without pause or complaint, you step forward to serve our nation.
In this new era of challenge and change, America's obligation to lead for peace and human dignity has remained as important as ever. In Bosnia, you, the men and women of our Armed Forces, will bear that charge with great honor. You will make the difference between horror and hope, between a war that resumes and a peace that take hold.
I am proud to be your Commander in Chief and to thank you on behalf of your nation. Your mission of peace and goodwill in Bosnia reminds us all what this season is all about for all people everywhere.
Tomorrow, on Christmas Day, and as long as you are there, Hillary and I will have you in our thoughts and prayers. May God bless and protect you and your families and bring you success and a very safe return. And may God bless America, the nation you do so much to serve.