The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 26, 2001

Radio Address by the President to the Nation

     THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.  Most Americans are enjoying a three day weekend this Saturday, and I hope you are enjoying yours.  I also hope you'll find the time to share in our nation's observance of Memorial Day, when we pause to reflect on the cost of the free lives we live today.

     I will be marking the day with military veterans gathering at the White House, who knew and remember the people who never came back from our nation's wars.  I will then go to Arlington National Cemetery, to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.  It will be a high honor and I will be there on behalf of all the people of the United States.

     Later that day, I will join with veterans in Arizona for a commemoration and national moment of remembrance.  Most of us know war veterans; I had the privilege of being raised by one.  Usually, they are reticent about their experiences.  It is often difficult for them to think back on those names and faces, on the ones who never lived to be called veterans.

     But on Memorial Day, we accept our obligation to do just that.  We will remember the heroism, the hardship, the national gain and personal loss our wars have brought.  America has been given so much, but of all our assets, resources and strengths, none have counted for more than the courage of young soldiers in the face of battle.

     When war has come, the great decisions were made here at the White House.  But when the orders went out and were received half a world away, victory has always come down to the people flying the planes, manning the ships, carrying the gun and the pack.  They're the ones who have cleared the seas, crossed the rivers, charged the hills and covered the skies.  They have defended us.  They have died for us.  They have never disappointed us.  We are in their debt, more than a lifetime of Memorial Days could ever repay.  

     With their sacrifice comes a duty that will go on through the generations to honor them in our thoughts, in our words and in our lives.

     Every Memorial Day we try to grasp the extent of this loss and the meaning of this sacrifice.  But it always has seemed more than words can convey.  In the end, all we can do is be thankful; all we can do is remember and always appreciate the price that was paid for our own lives and our own freedom.

     Thank you for listening.


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