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4th of July Message to the Troops
Remarks by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, The Pentagon, Friday, July 04, 2003

This Fourth of July marks the 227th anniversary of the birth of our nation, the day when brave and dedicated patriots made manifest their love of liberty and founded a nation based on freedom. And from that day to this, the world has never been the same. As Lafayette put it, "Humanity has won its battle. Liberty now has a country." Indeed it does. For more than 200 years, America has stood for freedom.

So, on the Fourth of July we mark more than a birthday. We celebrate our God-given rights to liberty and life, and we honor all those who, over the centuries, have been willing to fight and die to keep our country free. Today we are engaged in a struggle as great as any America has faced throughout her long and honored history. It is a struggle every bit as much a fight for freedom as the war that was fought in 1776. Once again it is a battle for humanity, for the right of all people – not just Americans – to live in a world free of terror and fear.

You are the men and women who are fighting this new war. Your gallantry and courage in the face of evil has stirred the souls of all Americans. Day after day, week after week, they have seen your faces and read your stories. They have shared your sorrows and celebrated your victories. And in each one of you they see reflected their deeply-felt honor, pride and patriotism. Through your valor and sacrifice, our Republic has been strengthened and renewed.

So, as we celebrate the founding of our Nation, we honor you – the men and women of the U.S. military who volunteer to help make our freedom possible.

Through Operation Tribute to Freedom, Americans across the land are participating in hundreds of local activities and events, honoring their hometown heroes, and expressing their appreciation and support for your service and your sacrifice.

The global war on terror is far from over. While freedom has been restored to the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, dangerous threats remain – in those countries and across the globe. The transition from tyranny to a free society will take time to accomplish. As Thomas Jefferson so aptly described it, "We are not to expect to be translated from despotism to liberty in a featherbed."

Meanwhile the tyranny of terrorism continues, and so must the global war on terror -- until tyranny has been defeated wherever it threatens free men and women. As President Bush has said, the threat may be new, but America’s duty is familiar: to defend the safety and security of our people and the hopes of all mankind.

I thank you for volunteering to serve our country and the cause of freedom. May God bless and protect you and those you love, and may He continue to bless the United States of America.