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2004 Thanksgiving Message From the Secretary of Defense

Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 19, 2004 – Each November, Americans set aside a special day to give thanks for the blessings that come with the privilege of citizenship in our great country.

It is perhaps no coincidence that America's leaders have given special prominence to Thanksgiving during times of turmoil for the nation. George Washington first proclaimed an official day of Thanksgiving in 1789, the year his presidency began. Abraham Lincoln revived the tradition as the country endured the pain of the Civil War. And in 1941, just days after America suffered an unprecedented attack on its shores, Congress officially established Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November.

This year, America again celebrates Thanksgiving as our men and women in uniform defend our nation many miles from home. But those soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines are not alone; our thoughts and prayers are with them always.

This Thanksgiving day, I hope all Americans will give thanks to those patriots and heroes who are making so many sacrifices to come to the defense of our way of life.

Due to the hard work of the Armed Forces, some 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq can today give thanks for their newfound freedom.

Because of the tireless efforts undertaken by our forces abroad and hundreds of thousands of law- enforcement personnel here at home, the ability of the enemy to attack our homeland has been severely reduced.

Due to the unflagging commitment of our military personnel, the global struggle between the civilized world and extremists is being fought on their territory, not our own.

So on this Thanksgiving Day, I offer my thanks:

To our men and women in uniform for their steadfast devotion to our nation and to the cause of liberty;

To families and friends of those servicemen and women for the strength, support, and encouragement they offer their loved ones; and

To the families of the fallen, for the sacrifices they have endured on behalf of a grateful nation and a future of freedom.

May God bless them all this day and always. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.

Donald H. Rumsfeld

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