Houston, Texas (NOTE: The governor frequently deviates from prepared text.)
Major General McCarthy, Lieutenant Colonel Stevens, proud members of the 1st Battalion 23rd Marines, I am honored to be with you and the loved ones by your sides.
Your activation, and your imminent deployment, comes in your country's time of great need. America's mission in the War on Terror continues to go forward.
We remain committed to rooting out and destroying terrorist cells, confronting rogue nations that harbor and sponsor them and taking the fight to the enemy where they plan and train so this battle is not fought on our streets, in our communities and within the borders of our great country.
On this Family Day celebration of your service, I want to say something to the children:
Your dad or mom is a special breed of American.
When the president is looking for a few good men and women, he calls on them. And while you will miss them dearly while they are gone, they will be doing extremely important work to make sure you are safe. So we will pray for them and their safety and we will plan an even bigger celebration for when they return.
It is not lost on me that every Marine, every member of the Armed Forces that joins the battle leaves many loved ones behind. You, too, make a tremendous sacrifice.
Texas not only salutes the service of these Marines, but the great sacrifice of their families. With 1,000 Marines being activated with the 23rd, 400 with Alpha Company here in Houston, and many more with Charlie Company in Corpus Christi and your weapons company in Austin, we are reminded once again of the extent of the sacrifice required at this time.
This war is not only impacting our active duty forces, but members of the Reserves and the Guard. You leave behind not only families, but your jobs. It is a tremendous commitment.
With the dedication last weekend of the World War II Memorial in Washington and the 60th commemoration of the D-Day invasion this weekend, we are mindful that generations of Americans have answered the call of country defending freedom at home and liberating the oppressed abroad.
America has a long history of fighting wars to liberate oppressed peoples rather than conquest foreign lands.
We not only help our allies rebuild, we help our enemies rebuild too. And we stay as long as is needed but not a day longer claiming only enough foreign land to bury those who don't come home.
The mission of the War on Terror is consistent with past American military campaigns.
We are protecting our national security interests freeing foreign people of brutality and rebuilding where they have experienced nothing but tearing down for so long.
But in some respects, this is not a conventional war. There is no foreign army lined up on the field of battle. Instead, our soldiers face cowards that hide in mosques, blend in with civilian populations, and make no distinction among women, children, and the professional forces they face.
Tough days lie ahead, even as your final destination is yet to be announced.
The work of freedom is tough duty and inevitably, it always requires a few good Marines.
Let me close by saying that the American People are behind you. They recognize the sacrifices you make and the heroism of your service regardless of the images often reported back home. A few bad apples will never change their opinion about a great many heroes.
You are soldiers in the greatest American tradition: honorable, professional and always faithful, Semper Fi.
May God bless you and protect you. And we will see you when you get home.