Sixty years ago, U.S. armed forces led the world in triumph over ruthless dictatorship. As the Pacific power of Japan surrendered in Tokyo Bay aboard the U.S.S. Missouri, our nation celebrated victory over tyranny. Today, the fight for liberty continues around the globe. America's sons and daughters, its fathers and mothers, are again embroiled in a battle for the future of democracy.
This Veterans Day, we pay homage to those who sacrificed their lives for generations of freedom and we give thanks to those who – at this very hour – continue to pay the ultimate price as defenders of liberty. To our veterans, our servicemen and women, much is owed. To them, we offer our humble thanks and ask for God's blessing upon them.
In the weeks following Sept. 11, 2001, American flags waved on every street corner, over every bridge and outside every home. Our thoughts and prayers reflected the sorrow of a nation, relentless in the pursuit of justice, resolute in its cause. As we pause to thank our nation's greatest heroes, may the patriotism of our nation again awake.
The United States must never forget the high price of freedom – witnessed first at the birth of our nation and later as the Union was saved. Today we see the price of liberty as freedom-fearing terrorists strike out against the builders of democracy. But the desire for liberty and freedom will prevail, as witnessed in Iraq by a voter's purple ink stained finger, an understated expression of mankind's inalienable right.
The struggle against terrorism reminds us that we must never forget the two words our nation continues to fight for – freedom and liberty. As General Omar Bradley said, no two words have given more to those blessed by them and damned more those who have taken them away. Just as our veterans led us to victory in World War II, our men and women in the armed forces will again pave the path to freedom.
The sacrifice of our men and women in uniform, past and present, has been great. I cannot fully express my heartfelt admiration and respect for those willing to serve our Nation. To these men and women, we owe our solemn oath, our pledge to not waste the blessings their sacrifice has bestowed.
Today, I hope you will join me in paying tribute to our veterans – the greatest patriots among us. Give them thanks. Let them know ours is a nation that will not forget. And for many, welcome them home for the first time.
To all our men and women in uniform – past and present – we offer the thanks of a grateful nation.