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On Veterans Day

Here are excerpts of the speeches from President Bush and Vice President Cheney on Veterans Day and the statement from President-elect Obama:

PRESIDENT BUSH (at the Intrepid in NY):
Veterans Day has a long and solemn history.  The event that inspired it took place 90 years ago today, in a small railway car in a French forest.  November the 11th, 1918, the Allied Powers and Germany signed an armistice that ended one of the bloodiest wars the world had ever witnessed.  By the time that day arrived, World War I had raged for more than four years, and more than 8 million soldiers had given their lives.  But on the 11th hour of the 11th day of that 11th month, the guns fell silent -- and peace began to return to Europe.

To commemorate the war's end, President Woodrow Wilson declared that November the 11th should be remembered as Armistice Day -- a holiday to honor the brave sacrifices of the American soldiers who defended democracy and freedom overseas.  Today, we know it as Veterans Day -- a day when we celebrate and thank and honor every man and woman who have served in our Armed Forces. 

These noble Americans are our sons and daughters.  They are our fathers and mothers.  They are our family and they are our friends.  They leave home to do the work of patriots -- and they lead lives of quiet dignity when they return.  Today we send a clear message to all who have worn the uniform:  Thank you for your courage, thank you for your sacrifice, and thank you for standing up when your nation needed you most. 

"As we mark Veterans Day, all Americans are united in honoring the extraordinary service and selfless sacrifice of our nation's veterans.  Our veterans are part of an unbroken line of heroes who have defended the American people and stood up for American values - from the beaches of Normandy to the battles in East Asia; from the deserts of Kuwait to the skies above Kosovo; from the cities of Iraq to the mountains of Afghanistan. Since 9/11, a new generation of American heroes has borne a heavy load in facing down the threats of the 21st century, and their families have been asked to bear the painful absence of a loved one. These Americans are the best and bravest among us, and they are all in our thoughts and prayers.

"On this Veterans Day, let us rededicate ourselves to keep a sacred trust with all who have worn the uniform of the United States of America: that America will serve you as well as you have served your country. As your next Commander-in-Chief, I promise to work every single day to keep that sacred trust with all who have served. May God bless our veterans, and may God bless the United States of America," said President-elect Barack Obama.

VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY (at Arlington National Cemetery):
There is no mystery behind the endurance and the success of American liberty.  It is because in every generation, from the Revolutionary period to this very hour, brave Americans have stepped forward and served honorably in the Armed Forces of the United States.  Every one of them deserves the thanks and the admiration of our entire country.  

Military service demands a special kind of sacrifice.  The places where you live and serve, the risk you face, the people you deal with every day -- all of these are usually decided by someone else.  For the time you spend in uniform, the interests of the nation must always come first.  And those duties are shared by family members who make many sacrifices of their own, face separation during deployments and sometimes bear extreme and permanent loss. 

Military service brings rewards as well.  There is the pride of developing one's character and becoming a leader, serving a cause far greater than any self interest and knowing that our nation's cause is the hope of the world.  Every man and woman who wears America's uniform is part of a long, unbroken line of achievement and honor.  No single military power in history has done greater good, shown greater courage, liberated more people, or upheld higher standards of decency and valor than the Armed Forces of the United States of America.