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Secretary of Defense Sends Holiday Message

By Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 22, 2003 – As Americans across our land move toward the holiday season, its message of peace and hope echoes and re-echoes in our hearts.

And so too the thoughts and prayers of Americans naturally turn to you -- the men and women of the U.S. military, all who have volunteered to defend the freedom we all cherish and to advance the cause of peace.

And that you have done. Indeed, you have done it with dedication, with courage, and skill -- as events of recent days so dramatically demonstrate.

Today, thanks to you, some 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq are now sharing the hope of mankind for a future free from fear. And with the capture of one of the world's most brutal dictators, that hope burns even brighter.

For that, they -- and we all -- are deeply grateful to you.

We are grateful to all who defend freedom here at home, and to those stationed far from home, who will be away from family and friends this holiday season. We're grateful to your families as well, who also sacrifice so that you can serve our country.

So, on behalf of the president, the Department of Defense, and the American people, I extend warm wishes for a safe and happy holiday. May our appreciation and the joy of this season fill your hearts and remain with you and your loved ones throughout the new year.

God bless you. Know that you have our heartfelt thanks for all you do for our country and for the world.

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