Galt House Hotel Louisville, Kentucky August 21 2:36 P.M. EDT
Well, thank you very much. That's a great honor. Great people. (Applause.) Thank you. (Laughs.) Sit down, please. Thank you. And I want to thank Commander Riley. Truly thrilled to be here with thousands of America's proudest and toughest and most extraordinary patriots: the incredible veterans of AMVETS. We love our veterans. AMVETS. (Applause.) Thank you very much. You're special people.
You fought courageously for our country, and now my administration is fighting for you. That's for sure. (Applause.) And, you know, we've accomplished a lot. We've done a lot. And one of the things we have done is you get that medical care quickly now, when you go into those doctors. And you used to have to wait for weeks and weeks and weeks. And you don't wait anymore. You go out and see a private doctor and we pay the bill. And people are really happy about it, and the vets are very happy about it. (Applause.)
Veterans Choice, as you've been trying to get that for 44 years, they say - 44 years. I guess it's longer than that; probably earlier than that. But for 44 years, at least, that we know of. And you got it, so congratulations. Hopefully, you don't have to use it too often because you're going to feel great. Okay? (Applause.)
To every veteran here today and all across our land, thank you for your noble and incredible service. It's an honor, really, of my life. I understand that I'm the first Commander-in-Chief, first President, to address you and be here. And that's something - (applause) - something that's very special. (Applause.) And it's also an honor to be the Commander-in-Chief of the greatest fighting force the world has ever known: The United States Military. And it's stronger today. (Applause.) And it's a lot stronger today than it was two and a half years ago, I can tell you that. A lot stronger today. A lot stronger.
Seven hundred billion dollars we spent, and then seven hundred and sixteen billion. That's with a "B." And this year it's $738 billion. So we've rebuilt your military, and it's stronger than ever before. And that was really needed. It was depleted. It was tired. It was exhausted. And you know that better than I do. But we have totally rebuilt it.
I want to thank your outstanding National Commander Rege Riley, as well as your terrific Executive Director Joe Chenelly. (Applause.) Where is Joe? Joe, thank you. Where's Joe? Thank you, Joe. That's not a very good seat for you, Joe. Huh? Give that mention right up top. Look. See? You want to give other people the better seats. I like that type of person. Right? (Laughter.) Thank you, Joe. (Applause.)
It's also my privilege to recognize your National First Vice Commander - the highest-ranking woman in AMVETS history - retired Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Jan Brown. (Applause.) Jan? Thank you, Jan. Thank you.
Congratulations as well to this year's recipients of the Silver Helmet Awards, especially a dear friend who is an inspiration to all Americans: World War II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Woody Williams. (Applause.) Where's Woody? Thank you, Woody. You're looking good Woody. (Laughs.) Woody is looking good. That was a big day - Medal of Honor. Nothing like the Medal of Honor. I wanted one, but they told me I don't qualify, Woody. (Laughter.) I said, "Can I give it to myself any?" They said, "I don't think that's a good idea." (Laughter.) Great, great people. These are great, great men and women that get the Congressional Medal of Honor. Thank you, Woody.
We are unbelievably grateful to all of the members of AMVETS Ladies Auxiliary. They've worked so hard. And the Sons of AMVETS, and the Junior AMVETS - (applause) - and, of course, the legendary AMVETS Riders - (applause) - who are fighting to keep alive the spirit of Rolling Thunder. I love Rolling Thunder - that noise. (Applause.) Wow. Rolling Thunder. We're taking care of Rolling Thunder, since I've been there. Rolling Thunder, please stand up. You have so many great people. So many great people. Thank you. Thank you. And the leaders are all here too. Thank you. (Applause.) And we'll see you in a little while, in Washington. And to honor the prisoners of war and those missing in action, today we renew our vow that America will never, ever forget. It's a great - (applause) - thank you.
Great to be joined by a number of champions for America's veterans, including Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Betsy? Betsy. (Applause.) Doing a great job. Deputy VA Secretary James Burn. James, thank you. Great job. (Applause.) A an who has really done a great job - I don't know if he's appreciated. Sometimes it doesn't work out that way, but he's done an incredible job, and your state is doing phenomenal business and I want to take all of the credit but I can, because I have to give him a lot too, because he has been a truly great governor: Matt Bevin. (Applause.) Thank you, Matt.
And you know, Kentucky has record numbers right now. It's the best year they've ever had in just about every category. So it's - it's really an incredible thing.
And a man who I just watched on television - he's so good. You can do television for me anytime you want. Congressman Thomas Massie. Where's Thomas? (Applause.) Good job. Thomas, say hello to our friends. Say hello to our friends back in Washington. That was a good job. Just watched you.
I cannot come to Kentucky without also praising the exceptional work of Senator Mitch McConnell. I have to tell you - (applause) - this guy is a true fighter for our veterans and for Kentucky. He's worked tirelessly to enact massive tax cuts, record defense spending, and crucial VA reform that I was just talking about.
And I have to think - yet, of all the things with respect to Mitch. Mitch is a - he's a good person, but his leadership in the Senate, we've confirmed - think of this - almost 150 federal judges to uphold our nation's beloved Constitution, and the foundation of American freedom.
And Mitch and I have worked very hard. We're up to 150. Within about two months, we'll be at 179 federal judges and two Supreme Court judges. (Applause.) And - it's your senator. And it's - for him, that's - that's a passion like I've never seen before. And there is nothing more important.
You know, when I became President, he said, "The most important thing you can do is judges." And in particular, they said, Supreme Court justices. Well, as you know, we've named two Supreme Court justices, right? Justice Kavanaugh, Justice Gorsuch. (Applause.) And I want to just congratulate Mitch McConnell. And you have them. You have them. And he's a champion. And he fights hard. And he really is something special. And he loves your state. And I'll be here campaigning for Mitch and I'll be campaigning for Matt. And we're going to get them both back in. And I just had to say, because Mitch has been somebody very special and Matt knows that as well.
This year, we commemorated the 75th anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 1944, when thousands of American patriots stormed the beaches of Normandy and charged through the fires of hell to ensure their survival of liberty.
This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the organization that took care of those victorious veterans when they returned, and every generation of veterans since. Incredible job.
Today we celebrate AMVETS - (applause) - for 75 years of love, and loyalty, and lifelong service to our military personnel, to our veterans, and to their families. Congratulations. Thank you very much. Thank you.
AMVETS posts across the nation have become pillars of pride in our community - so true - and shining symbols of the enduring power of the American spirit. Your support of our troops overseas, it welcomes them when they come back home. And you welcome them and you're there for them in every way - medically, physically, morally. You're with them all the way. And they appreciate it much more than you would even know.
You safeguard our values, pass on our traditions, and teach generation after generation to love our country, honor our heroes, and always respect our great American flag. (Applause.)
We gather today at a truly incredible time for our nation. We are reawakening American pride, American confidence, and American greatness. We are America first. (Applause.) It's about time, too.
It's about time, wouldn't you say? We hear, "America first." You didn't used to hear that. You didn't use to hear that too much, right? You didn't used to hear it at all, come to think of it. You hear that a lot now. Hope you don't get sick of it. I don't think you will. (Laughter.) Not this group. Not too many people in our country would feel that way.
We're respected again as a nation. We're respected again. We're restoring the fundamental principles that government - and its first obligation is the highest loyalty is to our citizens. It's the loyal to our citizens that really is that first obligation.
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