The Final State of the Union
Now, like a lot of great ideas, this one was conceived in a bar. (Laughter and applause.) A young bartender on Long Island named Chris Carney began talking about biking across the country to raise funds and awareness for returning troops and wounded warriors. And his boss said to him, "If you don't do it, I'll find somebody who will."So Chris hopped on his bike for what became the first annual Soldier Ride. The next year, a couple of wounded warriors joined him. A year later, even more. Civilians started to ride along. Grateful Americans began lining the streets to cheer and show their support. More rides were added, and more money was raised.And five years after that first ride, I'm honored to have 40 wounded warriors gathered here on the South Lawn to kick off the third annual "White House to the Lighthouse" Challenge. Over the next three days -- (applause) -- over the next three days these men and women, along with family and supporters, will ride from here to Annapolis on bicycles and in wheelchairs, raising money and awareness for others returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with serious injuries.Keep in mind that today's riders once faced down the possibility that they might never have an active lifestyle again. Some are missing limbs, coping with nerve damage, living with Traumatic Brain Injury or blindness. Some have endured painful rehabilitation, some still are, and some have battles yet to come.These wounded warriors didn't get to choose the direction their lives would take the instant they were injured. But now they choose to prove that life after injury isn't about what you can't do -- it's about what you can. They choose to keep their faith with the future. They choose to keep fighting for their brothers and sisters and show them that they're not alone.We also remember that so many are supported by spouses and children, parents and siblings who suffered the absence of a loved one, and then stood by their side through their recovery. These military families are heroes, too. And they are a top priority for Michelle and me, and they will always have our support.To anyone who's along their route this weekend, I ask you to go out there and cheer. Salute. Say thank you. And we'll do our part to support our troops, their families, and all who have worn the uniform of the United States of America -- because when it comes to their service and sacrifice, warm words and gestures are more than warranted, but they're not nearly enough.