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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
October 7, 2005

Vice President's Remarks to Veterans and Friends of the 526th Armored Infantry
National World War II Memorial
Washington, D.C.

      In Focus: Veterans

9:35 A.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT: At ease, please. Well, thank you very much. And I want to wish all of you a good morning. It's a little damp out here this morning, I recognize. But I'm honored to be invited to join in your ceremony, and want to welcome all of you to the nation's capital, as well as to this very special place, our National World War II Memorial.

I count it a privilege to stand in the presence of men who were sent into battle by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and who, by your courage and your honor and your devotion to duty, helped win a war and change the course of history. To the soldiers, widows, and family members here today, I bring personal regards from President George W. Bush.

More than six decades ago, after training in the heat of the Arizona desert, members of the unit ended up fighting in the intense cold of the Ardennes. As very young men, you experienced the hardest aspects of war -- ferocious combat and the loss of comrades. There must be times when you think back on it all and wonder how you made it through. Some of the recollections, also, must be a little tough to dwell on. Yet I hope you'll carry with you always the memory of the nations you helped liberate, the images of the people you freed, and the feeling of accomplishment that is uniquely yours, for you served honorably in a desperate hour for our country. And in the pivotal hours of the Second World War, the 526th Armored Infantry Battalion was a valiant unit and earned a permanent and respected place in the story of liberty.

One of the great strengths of this country is the unselfish courage of the citizen who steps forward, puts on the uniform, and stands ready to go directly in the face of danger. It is that quality, more than any other, which has kept us free for more than 200 years. Yet Americans are a peaceful people. And so, as this very memorial testifies, we number the casualties of war not as a statistic of history, but as an enduring, irreplaceable loss to our country. For some of the men in the 526th, there was to be no homecoming. These men, last seen on duty so long ago, are still loved and remembered. How wonderful it is, how American it is, that more than 60 years after the end of the war, you should be here today, honoring their service and speaking their names.

Your group has gathered over the decades, and you have brought into your circle of friendship family members of different generations. Your ranks have naturally grown smaller with time, but the spirit of these reunions never changes. You are patriots and loyal friends. You are a credit to the uniform you once wore, and an inspiration to the young Americans who wear that uniform today.

Many years ago you proved yourselves to be selfless men. Today, at this place of reflection, I hope you will permit yourselves a moment of pride. Be proud of the way you have lived your lives. Be proud that you were good soldiers, faithful and true, when the nation needed you most.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 9:39 A.M. EDT

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