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Independence Day 2000 Message From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

National Guard Bureau

WASHINGTON, June 22, 2000 –

On July 4, 1776, the 13 American colonies declared their independence. The first Patriots, with diverse backgrounds, representing different regions and interests, were united in their quest for freedom and their willingness to fight for liberty. Despite the considerable risk of almost certain defeat at the hands of the greatest land and sea power of that age, they ultimately triumphed and a new, independent United States of America emerged.

At sea, on land, and in the air, whether during peace or war, the men and women of America's Armed Forces have continued to ensure the sacrifices of our forefathers and others who followed them were not made in vain. The backgrounds of the individuals in today's Armed Forces are even more diverse than those of our predecessors -- yet we all continue to unite behind the same ideals and values that guided this Nation to independence over 200 years ago.

Today, on the first Independence Day of the 21st century, you -- America's soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coastguardsmen -- are America's new Patriots, linked in spirit to the generations of fighting men and women of our Nation's great history. Around a troubled world, you deter our foes, protect our friends, and keep the peace.

Despite enormous danger, personal sacrifice, and lengthy separation from family and friends, it is your indomitable spirit and steadfast willingness to serve that define America and manifest its ideals, both at home and abroad. On this Independence Day, America honors you and all those who preceded you.

On behalf of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, thank you for all you do in the defense of our great Nation -- on this -- America's birthday.

HENRY H. SHELTON

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

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