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Secretary of Defense's Veterans Day Message

National Guard Bureau

WASHINGTON, Nov. 10, 2003 – From the birth of our nation - when farmers dropped their pitchforks, and took up muskets to secure our independence - courageous young men and women have stepped forward to defend freedom. They are America's veterans.

Today, freedom is once again under attack. And, once again, a new generation of veterans is serving - all of you who are fighting today's global war on terror.

Whether you serve in Iraq, or Afghanistan, or some other outpost of liberty, each of you volunteered, risking your lives for a cause greater than yourselves. The American people know your hearts and appreciate your courage. They have every confidence in you. They know that, with you on the frontlines, we will win today's struggle for freedom.

As we have learned again in recent weeks, the price of freedom is high. Many of you have lost friends in battle. Still others have suffered wounds. I have visited many of those recovering in military hospitals. Each visit reminds me of how fortunate our nation is that there are so many truly wonderful young men and women who are willing to step forward, to volunteer to serve - to say "send me."

The brave veterans of wars past stand with you every day, but especially on Veterans Day. They are proud of you, they feel a special bond with you - the kind that only those who have smelled the smoke of battle can truly share.

Today, you carry on their struggle - the battle for human freedom. And as you do, you are taking your rightful place alongside the heroes of wars past. You are in freedom's fight. We owe you our liberty. And we thank you for all you do for our country.

God bless you all.

Donald H. Rumsfeld

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