Following the steps of Generals John J. Pershing, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Douglas McArthur, Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf celebrated winning a war by giving a speech before Congress Wednesday.
The special ceremony was arranged to honor the commander of allied forces during the Persian Gulf war - but he used his speech to honor all others who he said helped win the war."From all of us who proudly served in the Middle East in your armed services, thank you America," he said to a wildly cheering Congress. Rep. Bill Orton, D-Utah, in fact, was about the first to rise and cheer the general.
Sharing in the celebration was Schwarzkopf's wife and family, who looked on from the galleries. And Kuwaiti Ambassador Saud Nasir al-Sabah also came to applauded him.
With a broad smile, Schwarzkopf said the support of the American people led his forces to never doubt they would win, would "kick the Iraqis out of Kuwait and get back here."
Before he thanked others for winning the war, Schwarzkopf said, "I don't stand here today for any great deeds that I have done. Instead, I stand here because I was granted by our national leadership the great privilege of commanding the magnificent American service men and women who constituted the forces of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm."
The first people he thanked were his troops. "I never, ever in my entire life will receive a greater reward than the inspiration I received every single day as I watched your dedicated performance. . . . We're the U.S. military - and we're damn proud of it. We were all volunteers."
He paid special tribute to the 147 U.S. soldiers killed during the war and the 188 others killed before and after it. About those who died before the war officially began, Schwarzkopf said, "They too - no less than those killed in action - died for freedom."
He also thanked God. "We'd like to thank our God for the protection he gave us in the deserts of Kuwait and Iraq. Most of us came home safely. We ask him to grant a special love to all of our fallen comrades."
He thanked President Bush for "allowing us to fight this war in such a way that we were able to minimize our casualties."
He thanked Congress and former presidents "for giving us the finest tanks and aircraft and ships and military equipment in the world. That is what gave us the confidence necessary to attack into the teeth of our enemy with the sure knowledge that we would prevail."
He thanked members of the military who were in other parts of the world. "you maintained the peace so we could win the war."
He thanked members of military families. "It is your love that gave us strength in our darkest hours. You are truly the wind beneath our wings."
And most importantly, Schwarzkopf said, he thanked the American people.
"The prophets of doom, the naysayers, the protesters and the flag-burners all said that you would never stick by us. But we knew better. We knew that you would never let us down. And by golly you didn't."
Schwarzkoph added, "It's a great day to be a soldier and a great day to be an American."