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Secretary of Defense Memorial Day Message

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 22, 2003 – Every Memorial Day, Americans across this great land of ours gather with family and friends to celebrate the memory and to honor the sacrifice of those who have died defending our freedom.

And it is important that we do so, for only by remembering how great their sacrifice was, can we truly appreciate how dear a price has been paid for our freedom.

This year, we remember not only the heroes of the past, those who battled the evils of their times - totalitarianism and communism - but the heroes of the present - your comrades - who fell fighting the latest form of tyranny, the tyranny of terrorism.

In Afghanistan, and later in Iraq, these heroes died defending their families and ours, and protecting our homeland from murder and attack. They died to deny weapons of mass murder to the perpetrators and the protectors of terrorist activities. They died to help free the world from the grip of a vicious foe, so that our children and theirs can continue to live as we have always lived - in freedom.

In doing so, they demonstrated, beyond any doubt, that America does have the ability to meet any threat to our security, the will to confront our enemies before they strike, and the resolve to hunt down, capture and bring to justice the purveyors of terrors, no matter how long it takes.

For that, they will be remembered forever in the hearts and minds of their countrymen. As the Civil War poet, Theodore O'Hara, wrote in his famous work, "The Bivouac of the Dead," "Nor shall your glory be forgot while Fame her record keeps, or Honor points the hallowed spot where Valor proudly sleeps."

In that spirit, I urge all Americans this Memorial Day to join together at 3:00 p.m. for a national Moment of Remembrance, in honor of those who have died to make our freedom possible.

I urge them as well to remember in their thoughts and prayers, those prisoners of war and those missing in action from earlier wars, and all our military men and women on duty around the world today who sacrifice, along with their families, to protect our American way of life.

I thank you for all you do for our nation and for the world. God bless you, and God bless America.

Donald H. Rumsfeld

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