President Bush Marks Veterans Day at National Fallen Soldiers Memorial Ceremony
American Legion Post 121
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Clayton, thanks inviting me. I’m really honored to be here with you. Congressman Edwards, thank you for your eloquence and your very moving remarks. Members of the Texas State Legislature, it’s good to see you again. Distinguished mayors, thank you all for being here. Proud veterans and families of the fallen: It is a privilege to spend this Veterans Day with you, and to join you in honoring four sons of the great state of Texas who gave their lives in freedom’s cause.
The young men we remember today did not live to be called veterans. They died in a distant land fighting terror, spreading freedom, and protecting their fellow citizens from danger. The valor and selfless devotion of these men fills their families with immeasurable pride. Yet this pride cannot fill the hole in their loved ones’ aching hearts, or relieve the burden of grief that will remain for a lifetime. In their sorrow, these families need to know, and families all across the nation of the fallen need to know that your loved ones served a cause that is good, and just, and noble. And as their Commander-in-Chief, I make you this promise: their sacrifice will not be in vain.
I know all the veterans gathered here and across the nation feel a special bond with our fallen soldiers and their families. Many experienced the heartbreak and tragic losses of war. Our veterans know that — what it’s like to lose a brother on the field of battle. And many of them recall the determination they felt when a beloved comrade fell, the determination to pick up the mantle, to carry on the fight, and to complete the mission.
That’s precisely what today’s generation of soldiers is doing in the war on terror. Since the attacks of September the 11th, 2001, more than 2 million Americans have stepped forward to put on our nation’s uniform — and during that same period, 1.5 million American troops have made the courageous decision to re-enlist and to stay in the fight. These men and women saw the future the terrorists intend for our country, and they said with clear voices: “Not on my watch.” America is blessed to have such brave defenders. They are tomorrow’s veterans — and they’re bringing pride to our country.
Their service is noble, and it is necessary. The enemies who attacked us six years ago want to strike our country again — and next time, they hope to kill Americans on a scale that will make 9/11 pale by comparison. By fighting this enemy in foreign lands, the men and women of our Armed Forces are helping to ensure we do not have to face them in our own land. And by spreading the hope of liberty to nations that have not known it, our troops are helping to defeat the ideology of the terrorists — and secure a future of peace for generations to come.
As veterans, you have confidence in freedom’s cause — because you have seen with your own eyes the power of liberty to transform nations and secure the peace. The men and women gathered before me took an oath to defend America — and you upheld that oath with honor, and decency, and valor. You humbled tyrants, liberated continents, and freed millions from unspeakable oppression. And because of your service and sacrifice, the world has been transformed in once unimaginable ways. Today, across Europe and Asia, former adversaries in war have become allies in the cause of peace. And in towns and villages on both continents, there are still men and women who talk of the day when the Americans arrived to free them from tyranny.
I thank our nation’s veterans for the fine example that you have set for our country. I thank you for your courage and your patriotism and your devotion to duty. I thank you for standing up for the men and women of our Armed Forces — and I thank you for all you do to support the families they leave behind during this time of war.
May God bless and keep all who have made the ultimate sacrifice. May God bless and keep our brave and honored veterans. May God bless those who are in harm’s way. And may God continue to bless our nation. Thank you. (Applause.)
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