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President Obama Speaks at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan

Ambassador Kim:
Thank you very much. Good morning everyone. Audience: Good morning. Ambassador Kim: Great. Welcome to a very special
event this morning. It’s really great to see
such — see and hear such an enthusiastic crowd. Now, if General and I
can get that kind of reception, I can only
imagine what the special guest is going to get. As you know, President
Obama is on his fourth trip to Korea. That is a very clear
indication of the importance of our
lives with Korea. And you should all
be very proud of your contributions to
strengthening that special partnership between
our two countries. The President’s visit is
going very well thanks to all of the hard work and
dedication of so many American and Korean
colleagues at the embassy and the command. So, let me take this
opportunity to thank all of you for your
support for this very important visit. Let me also single out our
control officer at the embassy Marita Novka for
the outstanding job that she’s done on the visit. Now, it’s my pleasure and
privilege to invite my colleague and partner
General Scaparrotti to introduce our very
special guest. Thank you. (applause) General Scaparrotti:
Thank you, Ambassador. Ambassador Rice, the
diplomats that are here from the embassy,
soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, the civilians who
work so hard along our side here with us and the
command and of course the families of U.S. Forces Korea. It’s my honor today to
introduce our Commander in Chief who, as the
ambassador said, is no stranger to Korea. This is his fourth visit
to Korea since taking office, which
really underscores the importance of the region and
the importance he places upon you and the work that you
do here on behalf of our country. He understands
this mission. I want you to know that
I’m proud of you as well. You and your families. That you’ve made the
sacrifice here to defend this country as well as
our interests, and I appreciate it very much. I want to thank, briefly,
Ms. Mackenzie Rowe from the embassy and Sor Major
Greg Weekly from CFC as well as Mr. Tim Higgs
from NWR, Tony Davis from USO for the
great support in helping us put this together. We have a great team with
USFK and the embassy and I appreciate it very much. Now, ladies and gentlemen,
please join me — (applause) General Scaparrotti: —
in a warm welcome of the President of the
United States. President Barack Obama. (applause) The President:
Well, hello, Yongsan! (applause) It is
good to be back to YongsanGarrison. I want to thank one of our
military’s most tested and trusted leaders for that outstanding introduction —
General Mike Scaparrotti. (applause) Now, I’ve been
told — I don’t know if you’ve heard this story —
that, years ago, Scap was actually an extra in a
movie about the Battle of Inchon — the turning
point of the Korean War. So it’s only fitting that
after a career of proud service that’s taken him
from West Point to Iraq to Afghanistan, he is
now Commander of U.S. Forces Korea. And we could not be
prouder of his effort. He’s got a great
partner in our other representative,
Ambassador Kim, a proud Korean-American, for
strengthening the rock-solid alliance
between the United States and the Republic of Korea. Give Ambassador Kim a
big round of applause. (applause) All of you have helped
keep this alliance the linchpin of security and
stability in the Asia Pacific. The 8th Army is
in the house. (applause) The 7th Air
Force is in the house. (applause) U.S. Naval Forces Korea. (applause) U.S. Marine Forces Korea. (applause) Special
Operations Command. (applause) We’ve got our
standing DOD civilians. (applause) And we have
our wonderful U.S. Embassy staff
are here as well. (applause) Audience Member:
And the VA! The President: Yes, good
job, VA — in the house! And I know we’ve got some
outstanding spouses — (applause) — and family
members, kids in the house. And I want to thank you as
well, because you bear the burdens of service as well
— whether it’s separation from a loved one, or
transitioning to a new country. And I just want you to
know that America is grateful for your
sacrifice and your service. Now, President Park and I
just attended a briefing led by General Scaparrotti with the Combined Forces Command. And then I signed the
guest book that sits on top of a table where the Korean War Armistice was signed. And both of those moments
drove home the truth that, after more than 60 years,
our alliance is as strong as it has ever been and as
effective as it has ever been. And nowhere is that more
evident than in the professionalism and the
interoperability of our militaries. Even when Scap had to
travel to Washington to testify before Congress
last month, he was never more than a phone call or
a teleconference away from Admiral Choi. And that’s because our
forces on duty here — American and Korean — are
highly trained, closely coordinated, fit to
fight tonight and every other night. (applause) But obviously, in addition
to dealing with the threat from North Korea,
this is also an alliance that represents the incredible
bonds between peoples. So I know that you
provided quick support in response to last week’s
terrible ferry tragedy, because we understood
when our friends are in trouble, America helps. And our hearts are broken
for our Korean friends, especially the loss of so many wonderful young people. But we’re inspired by
the tales of heroism and selflessness — the young
woman who tried to make sure everyone else had a
lifejacket, even if it meant her own death;
the man whose last words were, “I’m on my way to
save the kids.” That’s why America will
continue to support every rescue and
recovery effort. And it’s that spirit that
allows this alliance to endure. Katchi Kapshida. We go together. That’s what we’re about. (applause) That’s
what we’re about. That’s been our common
commitment for more than 60 years, in good
times and in bad. It was 1950, just five
years after the end of World War II, when
Communist armies first crossed the 38th Parallel. And at the time, many
Americans couldn’t place Korea on a map. But we knew — as much as
we had already given, as weary as we were of war
— that we had a stake in what happened here on the
Korean Peninsula; that we had to roll back the tide
of Communism; that as Americans, we had to
stand with our South Korean friends. And then, in September,
the Americans arrived. The alliance we led with
Korean troops landed in a surprise attack. And all told, nearly 1.8
million Americans would join the fight those
next few years. The conditions were
terribly difficult. The combat was brutal. The danger was close. By the end, nearly 37,000
Americans would give their last full measure of
devotion on this faraway soil, but not without
pushing the invading armies back across
the line they had dared to cross. If you want to know
what that hard-earned, long-defended victory
looks like — you look around this country,
the Republic of Korea. This country has risen
from occupation and ruin, and become one of the
most vibrant and open democracies in the world. Seoul, the city that has
sprung up around this garrison, leads one of the
most advanced and dynamic economies in the world. When our veterans witness
this nation’s progress; when our veterans come
here and see this great and modern country
for themselves, they can say with pride their
efforts and their sacrifice was worth it. They see the real results
of what they’ve done — a South Korea that is a
world leader and a true partner in Asian
security and stability. They see a country like
ours where children can not only have dreams,
but those dreams are encouraged, and he or she
can grow up to become Secretary General
of the United Nations or President of the World
Bank or even Ambassador from the U.S. to the country
he was born in. None of this
was an accident. Freedom is not
an accident. Progress is not
an accident. Democracy is
not an accident. These are things that
have to be fought for. You’re part of
that legacy. They must be won. And they’ve got to be
tended to constantly and defended without fail. And here, on freedom’s
frontier, they are — by every man and woman who
has served and stood sentinel on this
divided peninsula. The 38th Parallel now
exists as much as a contrast between worlds as
it does a border between nations, between a society
that’s open and one that is closed; between
a democracy that is growing and a pariah state that
would rather starve its people than feed their
hopes and dreams. That’s not the
results of a war. That’s the results of the
path that North Korea has taken — a path of
confrontation and provocation, and pursuing
the world’s most dangerous weapons. And I want to be clear:
The commitment that the United States of America
has made to the security of the Republic of Korea
only grows stronger in the face of aggression. Our alliance does not
waver with each bout of their attention-seeking;
it just gains the support of the rest of the world. North Korea’s continued
pursuit of nuclear weapons is a path that leads
only to more isolation. It’s not a sign
of strength. Anybody can make threats. Anyone can move an army. Anyone can show
off a missile. That doesn’t
make you strong. It does not lead to
security, or opportunity, or respect. Those things don’t
come through force. They have to be earned. And real strength is
allowing an open and participatory democracy,
where people can choose their own leaders and
choose their own destiny. And real strength is
allowing a vibrant society, where people can
think and pray and speak their minds as they
please, even if it’s against their
leaders — especially if it’s against their leaders. Real strength is allowing
free and open markets that have built growing,
thriving middle classes and lifted millions of
people out of poverty. We don’t use our military
might to impose these things on others, but we
will not hesitate to use our military might to
defend our allies and our way of life. (applause) So like all nations on
Earth, North Korea and its people have a choice. They can choose to
continue down a lonely road of isolation, or they
can choose to join the rest of the world and
seek a future of greater opportunity, and greater
security, and greater respect — a future that
already exists for the citizens on the southern end of the Korean Peninsula. If they choose this path,
America and the Republic of Korea and
the rest of the world will help them build that future. But if they do not, they
should know that the commitment of the United
States of America to the security and defense of
the Republic of Korea has not wavered once in
more than 60 years. It never has and
it never will. This alliance is special,
forged on the battlefield, and it has been fortified
by the common values and mutual interest and mutual
respect of our peoples. The United States and
Korea are more than allies — we are friends. And this foundation of
trust and security and stability that allows both
our nations to thrive economically and
socially is made possible by the service and sacrifice of
every one of you — our soldiers, sailors, airmen,
Marines, diplomats. You are the tip of the
spear on freedom’s frontier. You carry high the legacy
left by all those who fought and served here. And to the family members,
both here in South Korea and awaiting your return
back home, I thank you for your service as well. Because of that service,
and the service of generations of
servicemembers and diplomats, our country
still stands, our founding principles still
shine, and nations around the world that once knew
nothing but bitter taste of fear now know the
blessings of freedom. That’s because of you. I could not be
prouder to be your Commander-in-Chief. (applause) And now I’m going to come
down and shake some hands and thank you in person. God bless you. God bless the
Republic of Korea. God bless the United
States of America. And God bless
our alliance. Thank you. (applause)

Tony wyaad