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News Release


Release No: 479-97
September 12, 1997


Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen has issued the following statement commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Department of Defense:

"How best to defend and nurture our freedom and liberty has been the subject of national debate since the very establishment of our nation. Our guiding principle has been clear from the start. As George Washington said, "To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace." How best to put principle into practice, however, has changed to reflect both the foresight of our leaders and the exigencies of the times.

"In 1947, our Nation decided that in order to protect and preserve the liberty won by Washington's generation, we must find a better way of organizing for its defense. So it was that the National Security Act came into being. That act not only established the Department of Defense and other agencies, but laid a foundation upon which sound strategies and policies could be built for our future.

"What we commemorate now, however, is not just an anniversary of legislation that changed the direction of our national defense. It is a commemoration of what Patrick Henry called "the great and arduous struggle for liberty." It is a commemoration of the ideas that have shaped our nation. And it is a grateful acknowledgment of the contributions of all Americans--military and civilian alike--who have dedicated their lives to our nation's defense."

NOTE: The Department of Defense will celebrate its 50th Anniversary Sept. 15-19, 1997, with various activities, displays and special events at the Pentagon. The point of contact for additional information is Glenn Flood, (703) 695-6294.

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