We are proud of all of those who served our country in Operation Iraqi Freedom and the ongoing operations of the war on terrorism. The efforts of Kentucky's National Guard and Reservists are also to be commended. We thank all of our troops for leaving their families behind and risking their lives and safety in this war. There are some servicemen and women who are not here to accept our gratitude, and we pray for their families who will not have a joyful homecoming reunion with loved ones they lost.
It is going to take some time before our troops are all home and out of harms way; Iraq remains dangerous place for them. Our troops are still being shot at and threatened by bombings and suicide attacks, and they must be on constant guard as they go about their work. The same strength, training and equipment that got them through the combat operations with speed and success continue to see our troops through the rest of this mission.
Our military coalition continues to look for members of Saddam Hussein's government, weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein himself. Our victory in Iraq ensures that dangerous weapons Saddam Hussein possessed will not find their way into terrorist hands. We also need to hold members of the old Iraqi regime accountable for the terrible torture, imprisonment and deaths they inflicted.
The difficult task of rebuilding and helping the Iraqis form a new government is also underway. A democratic government is not easy to set up and maintain, especially in a nation as divided as Iraq, but Iraq's people must have the opportunity to build their own government.
We have no interest in occupying Iraq, but I believe the United States does have an obligation to work with our allies, the United Nations and international aid organizations to help provide food, water, medical care and other necessities for Iraq. It will take time, but if we work together and with the Iraqi people, we can leave them with freedom and a more productive country.
Does our defeat of Iraq mean the war on terrorism is over? Unfortunately, it does not. However, this victory certainly moves us closer to the ultimate goal of stopping terrorists and those who would aid terrorists with money, weapons and other support. Special operations forces continue to track al-Qaida members who are hiding in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other places. Our military in Iraq will continue to find those connected with Saddam Hussein and those with ties to terrorists and weapons sources. In order to stop networks of terrorists around the world who still seek to harm us, we will need to work with other countries and continue our beefed up intelligence efforts.
One thing is certain: the United States still cares deeply about freedom and peace around the world. If we didn't care about the liberty of others, their well-being and the need to stop terrorism, we could just shut ourselves off from the rest of the world. While we can't solve all the problems, I believe the United States, by continuing its efforts against terrorism and other threats, will increase the chance of peace and security, not just for ourselves, but for other nations who share these goals. These efforts to stop terrorism and encourage peace are not easy, just like rebuilding Iraq won't be easy. But by committing to helping advance freedom, we will undermine terror.