President Barack Obama on Wednesday delivered an emotional farewell to the branches of the military, saying there was "no greater honor than serving as the commander in chief of the greatest military in the history of the world."
Turning the tables at an event focused on honoring the commander in chief as his eight-year term comes to an end, Obama solemnly praised the military as having "earned your place among the greatest generations."
"Of all the privileges of this office, and there are many – I will miss Air Force One, I will miss Marine One – but I can stand before you today and say that there has been no greater privilege and no greater honor than serving as the commander in chief of the greatest military in the history of the world," he said.
Calling out each of the branches of service, a somber Obama said: "Thank you for your character."
"In representing the very best of the American spirit. our nation endures," he said. "We live free under the red, white and blue because of patriots like you. It has been a privilege of a lifetime to serve with you. I have learned much from you. I'm a better man having worked with you. I'm confident that the United States and our Armed Forces will remain the greatest force for freedom and security that the world has ever known."
Obama noted many Americans do not see the sacrifices made on their behalf, "but as commander in chief, I do."
"You've inspired me," he said. "And I've been humbled by you consistently. And I want every American to know what I know, through year after year after year of continuous military operations, you have earned your place among the greatest generations."
Obama ticked off some of the major military accomplishments during his administration, hailing in particular the "remarkable Special Forces" for having "decimated" the "core al Qaeda leadership that attacked us on 9/11."
"And I have no doubt, this barbaric terrorist group will be destroyed, because of you," he said of ISIS.
"Even as we've suffered terrible attacks here at home, from Boston to Orlando, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland these past eight years," he added. "Because of you, the world has seen the awesome reach of American armed forces."
Then in an appeal to Congress, Obama insisted: "We cannot go back to sequestration," urging "Investing in the reform and the equipment and the support our troops need, including the pay, and the benefits, and the quality of life, and the education, and the jobs that our troops and our veterans and all of your families deserve."
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