October 8, 2003
President George W Bush
The White House
One month ago you went before the American people to ask for their support for your request for another $87 billion for Iraq. In your speech you praised our brave soldiers in the field and said "we honor the sacrifices of their families." I take those words seriously - "Our first commander in chief, George Washington said that "The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation."
America's veterans understand that appreciation of those who wear the uniform does not just come in the form of parades or words of thanks - it comes in the form of promises kept. The reservists you will speak to in New Hampshire on Thursday need more than words to honor their service, they need action. It's simply wrong that so many members of Londonderry's 368th Combat Engineers Battalion, stationed in Kuwait, were made to believe that they would be coming home for leave only to have their families disappointed after repeated assurances, or to have dozens of members of the battalion spend their own money on expensive plane tickets because they were told there would not be room on the military's planes to bring them home. Twenty percent of our Reservists and their families don't have adequate health care coverage and repeated actions by Congress have put their pay at risk. We're told we simply can't afford to pay our troops all they have earned, but I know you'd agree that if we can't afford to pay our soldiers in harm's way and support the families they left behind, then we have bigger problems than a budget out of balance. It means we have our values out of whack.
This is a moment for shared sacrifice. That is why I am writing to ask you to take advantage of a unique opportunity tonight. When you speak to your sold-out reelection fundraiser, I believe you can show real leadership by asking your wealthy contributors to sacrifice as much as the families of the guard and reserve. I hope you will consider asking your wealthy contributors to sacrifice a fraction of their tax cut so we can stop short changing our reservists, veterans and military families - and so we don't go deeper into the red to pay the costs of post-war Iraq without shortchanging priorities at home like education and healthcare and homeland security. I believe wealthy Americans understand we can't have it all - and they would not want their tax cut to come at the expense of our brave men and women on the frontlines. If you reach out to your contributors tonight, then on Thursday when you speak to the National Guard and our reservists you can go before them and tell them that you have asked others to sacrifice a fraction of what they have, that you have asked the most comfortable among us to sacrifice so military families can have affordable healthcare and a decent school to educate their children.
I believe this - more than any speech or words of encouragement - would honor our troops, and would keep faith with the values we share as Americans.