Defense Leaders Praise Freedom's Warriors to Kick Off Joint Open House
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May. 20, 2005 Servicemembers "are on freedom's side," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said at opening ceremonies for the Joint Service Open House here today.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld talks with Air Force Master Sgt. Sean Lehman of the Pentagon Channel at the Joint Service Open House at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., May 20. The Defense Department's "America Supports You" program provides the 2005 open house's theme. Photo by Maj. Francisco G. Hamm, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image)
Rumsfeld and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers both spoke of history and the future at the ceremony, which began Armed Forces Day celebrations here.
Myers said the Defense Department's military equipment on display often draws crowds to events like this. "But our greatest asset, of course, always remains our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and DoD civilians," he said.
The chairman said the World War II generation fought tyranny, hatred and oppression, and sacrificed much at home "to bring hope and freedom from fear to the world."
He said today's generation is much the same. "They are in the fight for freedom and an ongoing struggle against violent extremism," he said.
Rumsfeld spoke of Americans' fighting spirit. "That spirit has defined our country for many generations now," he said. "It can be found in each one of you. Yours is a calling that has led our country to free millions of people from fascism, from communism and from tyranny, that called America to the aid of those devastated by the tsunami, and that led each of you to volunteer to serve our country."
The secretary said men and women making history often don't realize they are doing it. "I'm sure the Union soldiers fighting at Little Round Top had no idea that their victory would begin the path to the Civil War's end," he said. "Soldiers, sailors and Marines had little opportunity to reflect on the impact of their actions as they swept onto beaches at Normandy or Iwo Jima."
The men and women serving the country around the world also are making History, and Armed Forces Day is a day to reflect on their contributions to history, Rumsfeld said.
"Across the world, outstanding men and women are preserving freedom for millions and bringing freedom to millions more," Rumsfeld said.
He listed some of the modern military's achievements in the war on terrorism: American forces helped liberate 50 million people from two oppressive dictatorships. They are rebuilding societies decimated by war and fear. They had brought thousands of terrorists around the world to justice.
"The coalition has made solid progress in the fight against extremism," Rumsfeld said. "But, the enemies of freedom are still planning attacks, and they are still threatening the progress of newly liberated nations.
"Whatever the mission and whatever the challenges that lie ahead, members of the United States armed forces are facing them with courage and with great skill," the secretary added.
Myers also praised American servicemembers and made some predictions. "We will win this struggle against extremism, and we will have a peaceful democratic Iraq and Afghanistan," he said. "How do I know this? I know our people -- their focus, their determination, their professionalism, their courage, their compassion will help ensure our success in this struggle."
DoD's "America Supports You" program provides the theme for this year's Joint Service Open House, open to the public May 21-22.