President Trump and his wife Melania saluted America’s airmen at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Friday, ahead of the 70th birthday of the U.S. Air Force on Monday.

The First Lady began the event by taking to the stage and thanking “the brave men and women who wear the noble uniform of the U.S. Air Force for having us here today,” adding, “I had the privilege to visit with some of your wonderful children at the youth center here on base. I enjoy our time together, getting to know them, and want to thank everyone who helped make this visit possible.”

She went on to applaud the Air Force’s participation in the Defense Department wide response to the onslaught of natural disasters that has pummeled portions of the United States in recent weeks.  Air Force personnel took part in search and rescue, as well as preparation and recovery efforts in the wake of both Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida.

“In the wake of two devastating hurricanes, the world has witnessed your courage and compassion, and you have made every American proud.” She said.

Before introducing the President, Mrs. Trump took a moment to praise the families of Air Force personnel as well;

I also want to take a moment to recognize the families of those who serve. You endure the time apart, are expected to move when new orders come in, and face the uncertainty that came in the times of need. This kind of lifestyle requires its own kind of courage, and your sacrifices do not go unnoticed or unappreciated. Thank you.”

At that point, the First Lady introduced President Donald Trump, who opened his statements by addressing the recent improvised explosive device terror attack in London, telling the crowd that he’d spoken to Prime Minister Theresa May to relay America’s “deepest sympathies,” as well as to reaffirm “our absolute commitment to eradicating the terrorists from our planet.”

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We will defend our people, our nations, and our civilization from all who dare to threaten our way of life,” he said. “This includes the regime of North Korea, which has once again shown its utter contempt for its neighbors and for the entire world community.”

The President also addressed the Air Force’s efforts stateside, working day and night to provide aid to those in the destructive paths of the recent hurricanes.

I visited Florida yesterday, where the American people have once again shown the world how resilient, strong, and truly united we are,” he said. “We’re going to help our fellow Americans put their lives, their homes, and their communities back together because when Americans are in need, Americans pull together.  And we know, we can always count on the courageous members of our nation’s military to be there every step of the way, just like more than 400 Air Force medical personnel who have deployed to Florida to help care for the sick and the injured.”

“To the men and women who proudly wear the Air Force uniform, who keep our country safe, and who fill our hearts with pride, thank you for your service and devotion to America. Thank you,” he said.

Later in the speech, the President addressed another hot button issue among military leaders – the sequestration and how funding issues have plagued military readiness across the board.  Trump addressed this issue in a similar tone to that he’s adopted about lagging veteran support programs as well, treating proper funding of the military as though it’s something the government owes to those in uniform.

Each of you is fulfilling your duty to America, and now government must fulfill its duty to you,” the president told the airmen. “We will stop delaying needed investments in our readiness, and we will renew our commitment to the patriots who keep America safe.”

The President then concluded his speech by wishing the airmen before him a happy birthday, and thanking them for their service.

We will stand with you always. And never forget: I am always on your wing,” he said. “Happy 70th birthday to the United States Air Force. Happy birthday to everybody. We are so proud of you. Congratulations to each and every one of you. And thank you for keeping America proud, strong, safe, and free.”

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You can watch a brief birthday message from the President to the United States Air Force below:

 

Image courtesy of the Department of Defense/YouTube