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2004 Veterans Day Message from the Secretary of Defense

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 10, 2004 – In 1834, the American patriot, Daniel Webster, told the United States Senate: "God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it."

Fortunately for America, for more than 200 years our nation always has been blessed with patriots who believed as Webster did, and who have proudly stepped forward -- ready to fight and, if necessary, to die to ensure that liberty is defended.

We have a name for these patriots -- we call them veterans. And, in their honor, America has set aside a special day each year a day to recognize their courage and their commitment to our country, and to tell them once again of our deep appreciation for their dedicated service.

Through every conflict, in every era, they have battled tyrannies of every kind. While the names of those tyrannies have changed from fascism to Nazism to communism -- the nature of dangers they posed to peace and freedom have all been serious.

Today freedom is again threatened -- this time by a new tyranny, the tyranny of extremism of terrorism. And, again, patriots have stepped forward. They are there -- in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and wherever our liberty is at risk -- guarding freedom, and bringing hope to millions who once lived in fear.

To those on guard today, and to the veterans of every war on whose shoulders they stand -- the living, the departed, and the missing -- you have our deepest gratitude for your service and your sacrifice.

May God bless you all. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.

Donald H. Rumsfeld Secretary of Defense

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