President William J. Clinton, Secretary of Defense William J. Perry and
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John M. Shalikashvili have issued
the following messages to members of the Armed Forces in observance of Armed
Forces Day, May 20.
Every year on this day our citizens join in honoring you, the men and women who
wear our nation's uniform. You risk your very lives to defend the liberties we
hold dear. Americans everywhere recognize your dedication and professionalism,
and all of us feel profound respect, pride and appreciation for our armed
As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the allied victory in World War II,
everyone on earth should pause to express heartfelt gratitude to those who
fought and sacrificed in that awful conflict. We do no greater honor to the
memory of those lost in World War II than to continue their fight against
tyranny and oppression everywhere.
Each of you has stood to carry on that fight in the past year. You have been
called to serve in lands far from home. You have brought freedom and security
to our friends and allies and humanitarian aid to those in need. In Haiti, you
helped restore democracy; in the Persian Gulf, you faced down the forces of
aggression; and in central Africa, you delivered lifesaving food, water and
medicine. Throughout the year, you maintained the security of our country at
home and at posts around the world.
Whether you serve in the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marine Corps, or
the Coast Guard, you standards of excellence and your selfless service are
models for all Americans. I am proud to salute you for your many extraordinary
Fifty years ago, in World War II, the United States armed forces helped defeat
the forces of aggression and oppression on two sides of the globe. For the
next 45 years, in the Cold War, we faced down the global Soviet threat. Today,
our forces stand guard, at home and abroad, against a range of potential
threats to American interests.
And on Armed Forces Day, the nation says thank you to our men and women in
uniform, their families, and the communities that support them. The
dedication, spirit, courage and patriotism of our forces make them a beacon of
freedom in a turbulent world.
Around the world, there is a growing sense of peace and cooperation among
nations that once struggled against oppression. From Eastern Europe to
Southwest Asia to nations in our own hemisphere, this growing sense of peace
and cooperation is a testament to the service of American forces. You have
helped to share the blessings of liberty we enjoy with more people around the
Daniel Webster said, "God grants liberty only to those who love it and are
always ready to guard and defend it." America loves liberty. And we are proud
of our forces, who are always ready to guard and defend our liberty. We sleep
better each night knowing our nation's security is in sure and strong hands.
Today we celebrate Armed Forces Day -- a day to honor the selfless
contributions of our men and women in uniform. This year marks the 50th
anniversary of the end of World War II. We have commemorated many famous
battles and events from that era: Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and the link-up at the
Elbe, to name a few. No sooner were these battles won and our victories
secured than our armed forces found themselves engaged in a new kind of war the Cold War. Then, more names were woven into the fabric of America's
consciousness, live Heartbreak Ridge, Khe Sanh and Rio Hato.
And after the fall of the Berlin Wall, other names became familiar: Desert
Storm, Mogadishu and Cap Haitien. Each operation, campaign or battle marks a
unique chapter in America's military history and each shares the same important
ingredients: the spirit, pride, valor and unwavering dedication of America's
We now stand at the threshold of dramatic change, and within our reach is an
unparalleled opportunity to shape the future. And it is you -- America's
dedicated warriors who won the Cold War -- to whom the world will look as we
approach the 21st century.
As a member of the world's greatest military, you can truly take pride in its
heritage. On behalf of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I applaud your devotion or
our nation, and salute you on this Armed Forces Day.