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VA Secretary Thanks Troops on Veterans Day

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 10, 2004 – Armistice Day was celebrated on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month to mark the silencing of the guns in the "war to end all wars." The day is also observed by other nations that fought in World War I.

The holiday, however, is now recognized as Veterans Day in the United States, and its purpose has changed a bit, according to Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony J. Principi.

All Americans should take a minute on Veterans Day to remember what is involved in wearing the uniform, he said. And it's not just the active-duty servicemembers and veterans who deserve our acknowledgement. Their families make tremendous sacrifices, too.

"We have some of the most magnificent servicemembers in harm's way today in Iraq and Afghanistan who are doing just an extraordinary job, both courageously and with great compassion for the Iraqi and Afghan people," Principi said.

The VA secretary noted that today's dedication of a new wing at the Smithsonian helps to show the department's recognition of military members. "The Price of Freedom" exhibit honors the men and women who served in uniform.

"America loves our troops. We always have. And, I think, in the (post) 9-11 world, it has really come home to us that they really stand between the terrorists and (our) families," Principi said. "So on Veterans Day, it's a time to reflect on that and to say thank you. That's what it's about. It's to say, 'Thank you for honoring America with your service.'"

Principi added a special message to those servicemembers fighting overseas.

"We love them dearly," he said. "We will be there for them when they come home."

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Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony J. Principi

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