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Memorial Day Message from the Secretary of Defense

National Guard Bureau

WASHINGTON, May 22, 2001 – National Moment of Remembrance

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The gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery are graced by U.S. flags on Memorial Day. DoD Photo.

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From the Pentagon, there is visible a small, gently rolling corner of Arlington Cemetery. One cannot look upon its headstones, row on row, without being powerfully reminded of the great spirit of service and sacrifice that has defined this country from its very beginnings. With Memorial Day's dawn, we are called as a nation to remember these souls and all our honored dead, the men and women whose ultimate sacrifice guaranteed the liberties that we have enjoyed throughout the history of our nation.

Their sacrifice spans generations, and yet they share a common bond -- they all died for a cause much greater than themselves. There is a long-told story that in the early days of the Second World War, Gen. George Marshall was asked if America had a secret weapon to win the war. He replied that we did have such a weapon -- he called it "the best darn kids in the world." Today, the "best darn kids" still wear this nation's uniform; they are the men and women who nobly put their lives at risk defending the freedoms we hold dear. And their devotion to duty honors the memory of their fallen brethren each and every day.

On this Memorial Day, in gratitude for our country's blessings, let each of us pause in a national moment of remembrance for America's sons and daughters who gave the last full measure of devotion -- to recall their hopes, their dreams, their valor. Let us be inspired by their selfless idealism and pledge ourselves anew to do our part to ensure the children of today and tomorrow will not have to share in their suffering and sacrifice.

Donald H. Rumsfeld

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