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Secretary of Defense Independence Day Message

National Guard Bureau

WASHINGTON, June 23, 1998 – Two hundred and twenty-two years ago a small band of colonists shook the world with the most powerful of assertions. They called themselves Americans and their Declaration of Independence boldly proclaimed that freedom is not a privilege but a right. Turning that rhetoric into reality required sacrifice on battlefields from Concord to Yorktown.

Preserving that freedom in the 222 years since has required the perseverance of all the American people, the power of our ideals and the dedication of our men and women in uniform.You, our military men and women, are indeed America's guardians. We entrust to you the heartbeat of our nation, the security of our citizens. You risk life and limb with courage and fortitude so that our citizens can enjoy their lives, their liberty and pursue their happiness. Your selfless sacrifice reminds all Americans that freedom comes at a great cost.You are not only the pride of our nation, you are respected throughout the world, for you are more than warriors, you are ambassadors. You reflect and teach values and virtues wherever duty takes you. Indeed, because of who you are and what you represent, even people in the most far-flung comers of the world know that the sight of American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines means freedom. And in making the world safer, you make America more secure.

On this most American of holidays, let us not only celebrate the liberties we enjoy as Americans, let us also celebrate those who have defended these liberties. I extend to you and your families America's eternal gratitude for your service and sacrifice in defense of the freedoms we celebrate today.

William S. Cohen

Secretary of Defense

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