| QUANTICO, Va., Nov. 10, 2006 The spire of the new National Museum of the Marine Corps soars 210 feet above the ground. It is at the precise angle of the iconic photo of Marines raising the U.S. flag over Iwo Jima in February 1945.
President Bush joins, from left, Marine Lt. Gen. James Amos; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Peter Pace and Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Michael Hagee during the national anthem at the dedication ceremony of the National Museum of the Marine Corps, Nov. 10 in Quantico, Va. White House photo by Paul Morse '(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
History, tradition, courage, sacrifice and dedication are imbued in the design of the museum. And on the 231st birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps, President Bush presided over the dedication ceremonies here today.
Bush also added a new name to the Marines history of bravery when he announced that he will award the Medal of Honor the nations highest award for battlefield heroism posthumously to Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham. In April 2004, Dunham smothered an enemy grenade with his own body to save fellow Marines. He died of his wounds at Bethesda Naval Hospital, Md., later that month.
Bush said the museum will celebrate the Marine Corps history and help the American people understand what is so special about becoming a Marine.
For too long, the only people to have direct experience of the Marine Corps have been the Marines themselves -- and the enemy who's made the mistake of taking them on, Bush said. The National Museum of the Marine Corps fixes this problem. In this museum, you will experience life from a Marine's perspective. In this museum, you'll feel what it's like to go through boot camp,
make an amphibious landing under fire, or deploy from a helicopter in Vietnam.
About 15,000 people attended the event. Many were veterans of the famous battles of the past. Many of you here today do not need a museum to tell you this history, because you wrote it yourselves with your sweat and your sacrifice in places like Tarawa, Chosin and Khe Sahn, Bush said. These walls pay tribute to your contributions to American freedom. These walls remind all who visit here that honor, courage, and commitment are not just words. They are core values for a way of life that puts service above self. And these walls will keep the history of the Marine Corps alive for generations of Americans to come.
Bush commented on the shape of the museum. He said it was fitting to remind people of the Battle of Iwo Jima. The Japanese who defended that island had learned from costly battles that they could not defeat American forces, he said. Yet, they believed that by inflicting maximum casualties on our forces, they would demoralize our nation and make America tire of war.
The Japanese killed more than 5,000 American Marines and sailors in that battle, but Americas will did not break. That flag that was raised on Mount Suribachi would become an enduring symbol of American resolve, and a lasting icon of a democracy at war, the president said.
And Marines continue to make history. Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 190,000 men and women have stepped forward to wear the uniform of the Marine Corps. Like the Marines who have come before them, this new generation is serving freedom's cause in distant lands, he said. Like the Marines who have come before them, this new generation faces determined enemies.
And like the Marines who have come before them, he continued, this new generation is adding its own chapters to the stories of liberty and peace. And years from now, when America looks out on a democratic Middle East growing in freedom and prosperity, Americans will speak of the battles like Fallujah with the same awe and reverence that we now give to Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima.