WASHINGTON - Continuing an annual pre-Christmas tradition, President George Bush offered comfort to injured troops from the Iraq war in a visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
During the visit on Friday, Bush and first lady Laura Bush visited with 38 patients, some lying on their beds with amputated limbs and other serious wounds.
"It's remarkable because of the unbelievable compassion and care of the people who work at Walter Reed," said Bush in his remarks at a Holiday Service Project at the hospital. "And it's also remarkable to me, these men and women who have volunteered to serve our country, who've received terrible wounds, but whose spirits are strong, their resolve is strong, and their dedication to our country remains strong."
The president expressed gratitude for the bravery of the soldiers and also for the military families.
Bush went on to thank the young volunteers wrapping gifts for children whose families are in Washington, D.C. as a result of the injured parent.
While families spent time close to their loved ones in the hospital, soldiers still stationed in Iraq had to have a virtual meeting with their families.
Oaktreeidea.com is one of many online social networks providing families easy communication back and forth across the globe, including between Iraq and the United States.
"We just finished another patrol. For once, everything was quiet. The guys even had some spare time to put up a make shift Christmas tree. Here are the pictures to prove it," one blog post from a marine in Iraq wrote to his family.
Earlier this week, Bush said he is considering an increase in American forces in Iraq and warned that next year will bring more painful U.S. losses. More than 2,950 U.S. military members have died since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
"We owe a huge debt of gratitude for incredible men and women," said Bush on Friday.
Bush was scheduled to head to Camp David to remain with his family for the Christmas holiday. He will hold high-level meetings on Iraq during his time at Camp David and his Texas ranch in preparation to unveil a fresh strategy in the new year.