"Everybody around this table here could have taken the easy road and stayed home and worried about their own comforts, but instead they answered the call to service," the president said. "And the country is lucky to have folks like this step up and serve."
Bush also thanked Cabinet members for helping President-elect Barack Obama and his transition team. One person is staying on, Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Once again, Bush defended what he called his administration's "good solid record." Most of the specific achievements he cited were from his first term, including the No Child Left Behind law, the Medicare prescription benefit and the massive tax cut.
But he also defended his foreign policy.
"Most of all, we protected this country from harm," he said. "And we did so by providing tools for our professionals, as well as asking our military to do hard work, which they have done time and time again. Concurrent with that, we promoted the freedom agenda -- 50 million people are now free in Afghanistan and Iraq because of action taken by the United States and our coalition."
Jessica Simpson shares three-way kiss with friends in photo
Susan Sarandon 'very excited' about daughter's pregnancy