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Press Release of Senator Cantwell

Remembering Our Nation's Veterans

Statement of Sen. Maria Cantwell

Tuesday, November 11,2003


WASHINGTON, D.C.– "Mr. President, today marks the 50 th anniversary of Veterans Day. This historic occasion is an important opportunity for all Americans to express our gratitude to our nation's veterans for the sacrifices they have made serving our country and defending our freedom.

My first sense of the sacrifice made by our veterans came from my family. My father volunteered to serve in the Air Force during World War II, and flew missions over Europe. I will never forget his stories of the war, of the men with whom he served, and of the dangers they faced together. Yet he knew full well the risks he would face when he joined up.

In fact, my father enlisted after learning that his brother was missing in action. Like the hundreds of thousands who fell at places like Normandy, Guadalcanal, Anzio, and Attu, and places so desolate they remain unnamed, my uncle never came home. He and his brothers in arms gave their lives to defend freedom at home and around the world.

In perhaps the most eloquent testament to the sacrifice of our nation's veterans, President Abraham Lincoln said:

“But in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.”

President Lincoln's stirring words are as true today as they were at Gettysburg 140 years ago this month. The ongoing deployments in the Middle East are a reminder of these sacrifices. Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to visit American troops stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq. I was impressed by their grit and their resolve to carry out a dangerous mission under extremely difficult circumstances.

I was also proud to join the families and neighbors who welcomed home the thousands of Washington sailors, aviators, and Marines who served in the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier battle group. It was uplifting to see such a tremendous outpouring of support for our troops.

Sadly, not all of them will make it home. To the families and loved ones of those men and women who have given their lives, I offer my heartfelt sympathy. You have the everlasting gratitude of the State of Washington and the nation.

I am profoundly grateful for the service of America's military personnel and for the sacrifices they have made in protecting our country and our freedoms. Although we commemorate their service on this special day each year, it's important to remember that the men and women in uniform make sacrifices to safeguard America every day.

Their service, both in peacetime and in war, protects us all. Our responsibility to them is to ensure that they and their families are provided the recognition that they have earned and so greatly deserve. It is also our charge, as Lincoln described it, to renew our dedication to the “great task remaining before us” – to renew our dedication to freedom and democracy. I am confident that as we a nation will continue to live up to this challenge. I hope that we can meet our obligations as citizens with the same sense of duty and honor with which America's veterans served."

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