November 10, 2000

A Grateful Nation Remembers Its Veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is honored to recognize the men and women who served in our nation's military -- past and present, at home and abroad, in war and in peace.

We're pleased to salute who serve veterans as physicians, nurses, technicians, therapists, or volunteers -- each extending a helping hand toward making their lives better.

And we're also pleased still to salute others of you who know or care for someone who is now serving, or who has served in our armed forces … a father, brother, sister, uncle, friend.

We honor and value the contributions of veterans to our nation. They have protected, defended, and made our way of life possible.

Today we renew the commitment America has made to those who served.

As we prepare to observe Veterans day Nov. 11, Americans will pause to honor the men and women who hold the respected title of "veteran." Over the course of 225 years of independence, 41 million patriots have stood watch over our liberty. We are the beneficiaries of their vigilance and determination to uphold the democratic beliefs on which our nation was founded.

This Nov. 11, 2000, celebrates the first Veterans Day of the 21st century. It marks a new beginning in our national life; heightens our anticipation of opportunities that lie ahead; and encourages us to give thanks for the peace and prosperity that are ours.

This millennium year is also a time to reflect on our nation's history and how veterans have shaped its course.

Time and again, Americans in uniform have shown themselves to be the lifeblood of our nation, a strong and vital force for good.

They repeatedly have met challenge and conflict on our behalf. For us, and for our friends and allies, they tenaciously held posts on lonely ridges, spent long days and nights at sea, and faced danger in the skies. They sacrificed their youth, their time, their bodies, and their very lives to sustain the foundation on which our country was built.

The last one hundred years have been called the "American Century." The nation rose to unsurpassed levels of world leadership and influence. Our values became the model for others, in other lands, because they represent the basic longings of people everywhere.

America's growing power and wealth brought with them new responsibilities. And these exacted a heavy cost. Early in the American Century, the nation's vigilance and willingness to help the oppressed elsewhere placed young Americans in the trenches of World War I. Among the carnage of that "war to end all wars" were more than 53,000 American battle deaths and 204,000 wounded.

Later, American men and women were called to serve on the battlegrounds of World War II, in Korea, Vietnam, Beruit, Grenada, Somalia, Haiti, the Persian Gulf, Bosnia, and Kosovo.

In stone and mortar, Americans have expressed their gratitude. Across the nation, monuments and memorials to servicemen and women recall their valor and victories, and demonstrate America's commitment to never forget the sacrifices of those who served.

It has been said that how a nation remembers its veterans is a clear demonstration of its character and conscience.

By our commemoration, we reaffirm our belief that veterans -- individually and collectively -- are living symbols of what America values and honors. By our paying tribute to them, we strengthen and reinforce the covenant between America and her veterans.

We do this year after year, and decade after decade, because we recognize a basic truth. It is, in large part, the deeds of our veterans that bind us to our past … strengthen us in the present … and inspire us to meet the future challenges that we may face as a nation.

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