Bush Honors Nation's War Dead in Radio Address
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 29, 2004 President Bush used his weekly radio address today to pay tribute to the nation's war dead as America observes the Memorial Day weekend.
Today's dedication ceremony for the National World War II Memorial, the president said, serves as a reminder of the sacrifices Americans have made in the name of freedom.
"When it mattered most, an entire generation of Americans stepped forward to fight evil and show the finest qualities of our nation, and of humanity," he said. "The World War II Memorial will stand forever as a tribute to the generation that fought that war, and to the more than 400,000 Americans who gave their lives. Because of their sacrifice, tyrants fell; fascism and Nazism were vanquished; and freedom prevailed."
Since terrorists attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, the president said, freedom faces a new enemy, and a new generation of Americans has stepped up to the task.
"In places like Kabul and Kandahar, Mosul and Baghdad, we have seen their decency and brave spirit," Bush said of the men and women who have served in the global war on terror. "And because of their fierce courage, America is safer. And two terror regimes are gone forever, and more than 50 million souls now live in freedom."
Bush said the stakes in the war on terror are both high and clear. "The enemy seeks to establish a new haven for terror and violence at the heart of the Middle East," he said. "They seek to force free nations to retreat into isolation and fear. Yet we will persevere and defeat this enemy, and hold this hard-won ground for the realm of liberty."
Veterans of the war on terror can be proud of what they've achieved, Bush said, and will always carry with the the memory of their fallen comrades. "Each man or woman we have laid to rest had hopes for the future, and left a place that can never be filled," he said. "Each was the most important person in someone's life. For their families there is terrible sorrow, and we pray for their comfort. For the nation, there is a feeling of loss, and we remember each name."
Aware of the costs of war, Bush noted, America always has gone to war reluctantly. "Those who have paid those costs have given us every moment we live in freedom, and every living American is in their debt," he said. "We can never repay what they gave for this country. But on this holiday, we acknowledge the debt by showing our respect and gratitude."