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A Thank You For Veterans
Written May 30th, 2004
On December 7th, 1941 the United States of America was attacked, without warning, by the forces of Imperial Japan. Soon after, the other Axis Powers of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy joined Japan and declared war on the United States. Hundreds of thousands of Americans were killed and wounded in that war making sure that this nation survived, and that its citizens would live in peace.
Only a few years after WWII ended, the Korean War began, and once more Americans gave their lives by the thousands to ensure peace. Around the world in times of trouble, in places like Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and the Balkans Americans have and will continue to make the ultimate sacrifice to ensure not just peace for America, but peace around the world.
To the brave men and women who have served their country I want to say thank you. Thank you for risking your lives so that this nation remains free. Thank you for putting up with the problems of living a life in the military, even if only for a few years. Thank you for going around the world to suppress evil and for spending time away from your family and loved ones.
We build monuments and memorials to remember the fallen. We do this not only to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, but as a reminder to those who come after us that freedom is not free. Sometimes freedom comes at a great cost.
We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free.
—President Ronald Reagan, Normandy, France, June 6, 1984
It is this capacity for sacrifice that makes this nation great. Some nations fall into a defeatist funk, questioning whether anyone can really do anything to prevent evil, or stop it once it appears. Others seem to think that their time to lead the world has passed, and it is up to other nations to shoulder the responsibility of making the world safe.
As an American I am proud that we did not follow that route after winning the Cold War. While some, even in this nation, called for the almost total elimination of our armed forces and for this country to adopt a go-along to get-along foreign policy others rose up and said that we will not go quietly into the night. We will rage against the dying of the light. The United States of America still stands for freedom and liberty, not just when the road is easy, but also when the road is fraught with peril.
Today we are engaged in another great struggle against evil. At some point in the future people will visit memorials to the fallen of this war and think about the sacrifices made so they could be free. As we think about the veterans this holiday weekend, think about that chain of sacrifice stretching back into the past and leading on into the future. Our freedom is secured by the fallen. Our friends and neighbors, our relatives, our comrades in arms.
To them, and the ones who will follow in their footsteps in the future, I say thank you.
Thank you for protecting us, for making sure that this nation remains free, for making sure the world is free of evil.