Nuclear Security Summit 2012 in Seoul: Remarks by President Obama During Meet and Greet with Troops South Korea | Embassy of the United States Seoul Korea
March 25, 2012
11:26 A.M. KST
THE PRESIDENT: It's good to see you. (Applause.) Thank you.
Well, listen, I'm not going to give a long speech, because I just want to make sure that I get a chance to shake everybody's hands. I just want to point out that I was just presented this spiffy jacket. And so whoever arranged to make sure that it fit -- I'm sure it wasn't the General -- I appreciate it. (Laughter.)
But as I told General Thurman and your commander here, you guys are the -- at freedom's frontier. When you think about the transformation that has taken place in South Korea during my lifetime, it is directly attributable to this long line of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen who were willing to create the space and the opportunity for freedom and prosperity. And the contrast between South Korea and North Korea could not be clearer, could not be starker, both in terms of freedom but also in terms of prosperity.
And the reason that the South is doing so well is obviously attributable to the incredible resilience of their people and their incredible talents and hard work, but it also has to do with you guys. And so my main message is the same, obviously, to every base that I go to all across -- all around the world, which is, I could not be prouder of what you're doing. Everybody back home could not be prouder of what you guys do each and every day -- the dedication, the professionalism that you show.
But there's something about this spot in particular, where there's such a clear line and there's such an obvious impact that you have for the good each and every day that should make all of you proud.
And I'll just share with you real briefly -- last time I was here, I was having lunch with the President of South Korea, President Lee. And he talked about how he was a small child when the Korean War was taking place and its aftermath, and the brutal poverty, the fact that they had nothing. And he went on to be a auto executive and ultimately the President of his country, and watch it grow. And he specifically said to me -- and this was a private moment; he didn't say this in front of the press, so you knew he meant it -- he said, the only reason that was able to happen -- and I still think back to all those American soldiers and the sacrifices that they made.
That's the legacy you're carrying on here. So we're grateful to you. We're proud of you. And I hope that all your family back home knows how proud your Commander-in-Chief is of you.
And the only other thing I'll say is, for those of you guys who missed the ball games -- (laughter) -- Florida got beat by Louisville, and Ohio State just beat Syracuse. So I don't know how your brackets are doing. (Laughter and applause.)
But anyway, thank you, God bless you, and let me just shake some hands and take some pictures. All right. (Applause.)
11:29 A.M. KST