WOODWARD, Okla. - Former President George W. Bush was greeted by thunderous applause on the Fourth of July as he told thousands of spectators in a rural Oklahoma rodeo arena that the U.S. was "the greatest nation on the face of the earth."
Bush was given six standing ovations as he spoke on a warm, humid evening in GOP-friendly Woodward, a town of about 12,000 residents in northwest Oklahoma and the latest in a handful of out-of-the-way places Bush has visited since leaving office.
During a 30-minute speech mostly devoid of political references - he mentioned his successor, Barack Obama, just once in passing - Bush thanked members of the military, spoke about the bravery of injured soldiers he'd met and told stories of people in difficult situations helping others.
"Patriotism comes in all different kinds of forms," he said. "Freedom is beautiful, freedom is precious, freedom must always be defended."
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