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Veterans Day Message

For nearly a century, this day has marked a sacred moment to remember those who have stepped forward to defend our nation and protect all that we hold dear.

As I join the President at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, my thoughts will be with the veterans among us who 70 years ago fought their way up Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima, or crossed the Rhine into Germany.

I will think about the veterans who today can tell their grandchildren of the freezing temperatures at the Chosin Reservoir 65 years ago, or the scorching heat of the Mekong Delta 50 years ago.

I will remember and honor the obligations we have to the veterans of the Gulf War, and to those who’ve performed with excellence in the past 14 years in Afghanistan and Iraq. And I will remember the more than 450,000 men and women currently deployed in every time zone and in every domain.

My first commitment as Secretary of Defense is to our people. Because our men and women in uniform, and their families, are what make our nation’s military the finest fighting force the world has ever known.

That’s why on this day, and every day, we should celebrate each generation by telling their stories, helping those that need it, by honoring their example, those who have done so much for our nation and our world.

To our veterans – thank you. Thank you for everything you’ve done for our country, and for the many ways you continue to serve your communities and your nation. You are the living embodiment of the tradition and the promise that makes our nation great today and inspires us for the future.

May God bless you, and may God bless the great nation you have stepped forward to defend.