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Hey President Bush Where is the Cold War Service Medal?

President George W. Bush said Tuesday that every U.S. military mission under his watch has been part of a just cause.

Speaking at an armed forces parade honoring his service as commander in chief, which ends in two weeks on Jan. 20, Bush acknowledged that his military decisions haven’t always been popular.

He defended his actions, which include taking the country into wars in Afghanistan and Iraq after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and told an assemblage of troops representing all branches of the military that they have served a “just and right” cause.

“The decisions I made as your commander in chief have not always been popular,” Bush said at the ceremony inside a gymnasium at Fort Myer, across the Potomac River in nearby Arlington, Va. “But the cause you have served has always been just and right. The missions you have carried out have always been necessary. And the work you have done has … been every bit as courageous and idealistic as that of any generation that came before you.”

Nearly finished with his eight-year presidency, Bush has been saying his goodbyes to the uniformed men and women under his command, including recent stops in Iraq and Afghanistan and, locally, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Noting that he has been participating in a “series of lasts” as president, Bush said U.S. troops helped liberate the people of Afghanistan and Iraq from the “chains of despotism” and he thanked them for that. He talked about the boost in military enrollments in response to the terrorist attacks. And he noted that the troops are never alone in shouldering the burdens of lengthy and repeated deployments far away from home and their loved ones.

“We appreciate you, we love you and we honor your service,” Bush said.

Before the president spoke, Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates thanked Bush in separate speeches on behalf of the more than 2 million military men and women.

Mullen read from a journal, signed by service members, that he said he had passed around during his travels.

One entry, from a member of the Air Force, said: “Nice to see that our president is still quick on his feet after eight years in office. Next time, pick up the shoe and throw it back.” The reference was to the incident during Bush’s visit to Iraq last month, when a correspondent for Al-Baghdadia television hurled his shoes at the president during a news conference.

Gates, who has agreed to continue as defense secretary when Barack Obama becomes president, said Bush will leave behind a U.S. military that is “more agile, lethal and prepared to deal with the full spectrum of 21st century conflict” than when Gates last served in government 15 years ago.

Bush received several honors, including the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Medal, and the Distinguished Civilian Service Medal from the five military branches. First lady Laura Bush, who accompanied him to the ceremony, also was honored for outstanding public service for her work as an advocate for democratic societies around the world and the rights of Afghan women.

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