Remarks by retired Gen. Tommy Franks as prepared for delivery at the 2004 Republican National Convention on Thursday, Sept. 2:

I'm Tommy Franks and I approved that message.

This convention ROCKS...

I'm not a Republican. I'm not a Democrat. But I believe in democracy. I believe in America.

After almost four decades as a Soldier I've been Independent...some would say very independent

But, here I stand tonight, endorsing George W. Bush to be the next President of the United States.

America is a land of opportunity and a land of choice.

A great war time President, Franklin Roosevelt, once said: "Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely."

Delegates and Friends - I am prepared to "choose wisely."

And I choose George W. Bush.

I am honored to join the American Patriots who just stood on this stage.

Men who know as do our troopers' mothers and dads, husbands and wives, that 'Freedom is Never Free.'

These are men who stepped forward to lead America's sons and daughters selflessly. They remained loyal to their Country and the troops.

I join them in saluting our Commander in Chief… George W. Bush.

America finds itself today at an important crease in history. The attacks of September 11th, brought a new enemy to our shores - an enemy unlike any we've ever faced before.

Our Nation is safer today because we have hardened our defenses and taken the fight to the terrorists, but we still have work to do.

The Global War on Terrorism will be a long fight. But make no mistake - we are going to fight the terrorists. The question is do we fight them over there -- or do we fight them here. I choose to fight them over there.

Some argue that we should treat this war as a law enforcement issue. Some say we should fight a less aggressive war -- that we should retreat into a defensive posture and hope that the terrorists don't attack us again.

Well, my wife Cathy and I are simply not willing to bet our grandchildren's future on the 'good will' of murderers.

I learned long ago that hope is not a strategy.

In the years ahead, America will be called upon to demonstrate character, consistency, courage, and leadership.

Lincoln once said, "Character is like a tree and reputation is like its shadow.

The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing."

Citizens and friends, I've been with this President in tough, uncertain times. George W. Bush is

"the real thing."

The past three years have been hard years, a time of hard decisions and tough choices.

I have looked into his eyes and I have seen his character.

I have seen courage and consistency… the courage to stand up to terrorists and the consistency necessary to beat them.

In the battle for Afghanistan we removed a regime that provided the base of support for the al Qaeda terrorists that had been killing Americans for years.

In the battle for Iraq, we removed a brutal regime with an avowed hatred of America, a history of torturing its own people, and a history of using WMD against its neighbors and its own citizens.

We removed a regime with well documented ties to terrorists - like al Qaeda murderer Abu Zarqawi.

Terrorism against our country started long before 9-11. Terrorists have been killing Americans for more than two decades. I am proud that this President has chosen to make a stand.

Today, in Afghanistan and Iraq, more than 50 million men, women and children have been liberated from tyranny and these countries are no longer safe harbors for those who would launch the next attack against America.

We see the smiles of little girls in Afghanistan who can now go to school. We see pride in the faces of a new Iraqi army as they begin to protect their new found freedoms.

We see resolve in the faces of emerging leaders of Iraq and Afghanistan as they build their new nations. And soon, in both Iraq and Afghanistan - we will see free elections.

In Afghanistan and Iraq, terrorism and tyranny are being replaced by freedom, hope, and opportunity.

I am proud that America has given 50 million people a chance.

And we have not been in this fight alone.

President Bush has built the largest coalition in the history of the world - nations united together against terrorism.

Some have ridiculed the contributions made by our allies, but I can tell you that every contribution from every nation is important.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in thanking our Coalition partners for being there when America and the world needed them most.

There can be no tougher decision than the decision to go to war - the decision to put our sons and daughters into harm's way.

When George W. Bush asked America's men and women to go to war, he gave them every resource the Nation possessed.

This is a man who, before sending us into battle, personally asked each military commander if he had everything he needed.

This is a man who made sure everything possible was done to protect our troops from the WMD we all expected. This is a commander in chief who is as compassionate as he is courageous.

President Bush has increased basic pay for men and women in uniform by more than 20 percent.

He has improved military housing. And he has provided strong support for military families who sacrifice so much.

And while we celebrate the American fighting man and woman when they are in the news, who remembers the veterans when the parades are over and the cheering fades?

Who remembers the veteran's families?

President George W. Bush has provided unprecedented support for these heroes. In fact he secured a larger increase in veterans funding in four years than the previous Administration did in eight.

This President remembers our veterans and is keeping America's promise to those who have sacrificed so much for us all.

George W. Bush remembers the sacrifices of the greatest generation and those who served bravely in Korea and Viet Nam.

To all our veterans we say, "welcome home."

This President has remained loyal to those who serve and for that he has my respect.

Citizens and friends, I began tonight by reminding you that America must make a choice.

I choose George W. Bush because he is a leader we can depend on to make the tough decisions - and the right decisions.

I choose George W. Bush because his vision to take the fight to the terrorists is the best way to protect our country.

I choose George W. Bush because he stands up for the American fighting man and woman and because he remembers our veterans.

I choose George W. Bush because we know the next 200 years of American history depends on the decisions we make as a Nation today.

And, I choose President George W. Bush because I believe his leadership will help ensure a better future for my grandchildren -- Anne Cathryn and Samuel Thomas Matlock.

Thank you all-- and may God bless our Country and our Commander- in-Chief.