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Armed Forces Day Message from the Secretary of Defense

National Guard Bureau

WASHINGTON, May 2, 2001 – Each year America sets aside a day to commemorate the devotion of our men and women in uniform -- the certain foundation of the liberties and peace that we have enjoyed throughout the history of our nation. Yours is a calling distinct and unique, for you voluntarily put your lives at risk defending the freedoms we hold dear. Indeed, in peacetime or in war, as you work to keep us safe, you assume risks many will never know. And wherever it is that you serve -- in any sky, on any ocean, on any shore -- your dedication to our nation's ideal of "peace through strength" is a source of hope and inspiration for liberty- loving people around the globe.

In his Inauguration Address, President George W. Bush spoke about civility, courage, and character -- qualities that make this nation special -- and he reminded Americans that the strength that matters most is not the strength of arms, but the strength of character expressed in service to something larger than ourselves. This strength of character infuses you, our military men and women, and, as such, you are this nation's ultimate safeguard and blessing.

On this Armed Force Day, the American people join me in expressing our deep gratitude to you -- patriots who embody the noble spirit of service and sacrifice as you preserve the blessings of our freedom every day. We thank you, and we are enormously proud of your faithful and selfless service.

Donald H. Rumsfeld

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