Senator Fred Thompson urges Americans to be thankful for sacrifices of others for freedom

By Bob Robinson
Star Staff

   Tennessee Senior Senator Fred Thompson was the keynote speaker at a Lincoln Day Dinner "Honoring Those Who Serve" held Friday night at the Adelphia Centre in Johnson City.
   "Americans should always be thankful of the sacrifices of firefighters, police officers and veterans for the blessings of democracy they enjoy," Sen. Thompson told more than 400 people attending the event, sponsored by the Washington County Republican Party.
   Sen. Thompson was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1994 and is seeking another term of office in this fall's elections.
   Prior to being elected to the Senate, Thompson served as minority counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee at the side of former Sen. Howard Baker of Tennessee.
   Today, Sen. Thompson is a member of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over taxes, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare reform and international trade.
   "Patriotism, commitment and dedication, dating back to the Civil War, is what makes America great today. It is a shame some people have to be as old as I am to fully appreciate what a great Country we live in. People sacrifice their lives all over the world for things Americans take for granted every day," Sen. Thompson said.
   Democracy around the world is a "deterrent factor" to a handful of people who have destructive beliefs. "They are religious fanatics who use God's name to murder people. For the first time in history, weapons of mass destruction are now in the hands of fanatics," he said.
   "All our hearts are saddened with the death of the Wall Street Journal reporter who was brutally murdered by a handful of people in Pakistan. The U.S. will eradicate all those who do harm to American citizens. We have the technical ability and willingness to do that. Force is the only thing some people respect," Sen. Thompson said.
   On the War, "Enduring Freedom," Sen. Thompson said he was among the first congressional delegation to visit Afghanistan after U.S. regained control of the airport from enemy forces. "We landed under cover of darkness. Some passengers were a little uneasy. Landmines were all over the place. The first person I met when I got off the military plane was Gen. Harrell of Johnson City, who said 'I am your escort for the evening.' Than I knew I was in good hands."
   "The president is in China. We must build bridges and draw lines where necessary. They may not be our friends. Some have sworn to take over Taiwan.
   "Iraq and Iran are small nations who supply terrorists. I commend President Bush for having the guts to call it an evil empire.
   "The U.S. must not let its guard down. In the past decade, the U.S. military budget and U.S. intelligence capability declined. Terrorists have attacked our barracks, our embassies, our ships, and, on Sept. 11, our home front.
   "The U.S. has the will and capability to turn this around." It would have been difficult had it not been for military personnel in Tennessee who rose to the occasion, he added.
   On the economy, Sen. Thompson said free people love freedom and prosperity. The war against terrorism has placed a tremendous drain on financial resources.
   "We must have sound policies to ensure economic prosperity. We are in a recession but things are looking better. Things come and go. There is no solution to preventing a recession. If we had one, we would avoid having a recession. We have a global economy."
   The stock market is punishing those "who were not doing the right things." At Enron, he said, "some people will be in big trouble." Long-term security of the nation is based on long-term prosperity and things we must do to maintain it, he added.
   When President Bush took office in January, 2001, Sen. Thompson said economic growth had begun to decline six months earlier. "No one has taxed their way into prosperity." Sen. Thompson said he believes tax cuts will stimulate the economy in the long term. "We cannot have everything all at once.
   "America still has an energy crisis. Sixty percent of our oil comes from foreign sources, including Iraq."
   The Senate Committee on Government Affairs, chaired by Sen. Thompson, is seeking better management and performance among government agencies. Performance measures are now tied to budgeted expenditures, he said.
   From the days of the Civil War, when thousands of men walked side by side and confronted their fellow countrymen in the face of death, Americans were committed and dedicated to patriotism.
   "America remains a 'beacon for freedom and hope' around the world. Patriotism is what makes America great," said Sen. Thompson, a native of Lawrenceburg and 1964 graduate of Memphis State University.