Mr. President, Mrs. Bush, distinguished guests, welcome. General Pace and members of the military, thank you for your dedicated service.
To our veterans and the families of our valiant warriors and fallen heroes … America is deeply grateful for your unselfish service … and for your profound sacrifice.
Today is a time of national reflection. We gather here among thousands of gravestones - together, a fitting memorial to those who rest here, and the ideal of service their lives represented.
I learned about the sacrifices of our military as a seven-year-old growing up in Baltimore in 1945. At the small square of grass where the city streets came together and where we kids always played, a small sign was erected one day that read, “Frances Callahan, Jr. Square”.
That night, I learned from my Mom that the Callahan family lived in a house on that square and that their son was a Marine who was killed on Iwo Jima.
Francis Callahan, Jr., and thousands like him, gave their lives so that I, and all Americans, could live the lives we have lived.
Throughout our history as a nation, there have been and continue to be many like Francis Callahan, Junior, who have given their lives to preserve freedom and liberty and our way of life.
These great Americans have given us a marvelous gift of freedom … a gift that needs to be continuously cherished and preserved. As President Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We don’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same.”
This responsibility for the preservation of freedom also passes on to each generation of leadership. The Commander-in-Chief bears the lonely, sometimes unpopular, but ultimate, responsibility to preserve freedom for future generations. It’s the will, commitment, resolve and determination of the President that leads the nation to victory.
Our nation is blessed to have those qualities of leadership in our President at this time of critical long-term threat to our citizens and way of life. It is my great privilege and honor to introduce our Commander-in-Chief, President George W. Bush.