ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, Va., November 11, 2001 -- Vice President Dick Cheney said the service members of today can take as examples a long line of American veterans who have defended freedom around the world.
Cheney, who represented George Bush at the Presidential Wreath Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns, said every veteran has contributed to the advance of this nation and the advance of human freedom.
"Every veteran has earned this nation's permanent gratitude," he said.
Even as Americans remember veterans, a new war rages. "In this new century, war has come to us," Cheney said. "The terrorists who attacked this country have declared themselves the mortal enemies of the United States and will be dealt with as such."
He told the crowd in the Memorial Amphitheater that Americans have no illusions about the difficulties that lie ahead. "We cannot predict the length or the course of the conflict," he said. "But we know with absolute certainty that this nation will persevere and we will prevail."
Cheney said today's service members "have the complete confidence of the commander in chief and the respect of the entire nation."
The vice president said that since the founding of the Republic, 48 million Americans have served in the armed forces. About 25 million of those veterans are alive today, including 2,000 who were on active duty Nov. 11, 1918, when the Armistice ending World War I took effect.
He said Arlington contains the graves of many veterans who served the country through long lives. "Here, too, are many thousands who never lived to be called veterans, from our Civil War to the attack on the Pentagon two months ago today," he said. "On Veterans Day, we remember the fallen and show our respect to those still among us -- the veterans we know as our friends, neighbors relatives and colleagues."
He said veterans remember their military service as being one of their defining experiences. "The military drew out the best that was in them, instilling the highest standards of diligence, discipline and loyalty," he said. "That is a bond joining every veteran from every branch of service."
He said Americans owe their
way of life to the nation's veterans, especially those of World War II.
He quoted a
woman who spoke of the influence of her father, an Army Air Forces vet of World War II.
"'Honesty, integrity, hard work, personal responsibility and perseverance were all around me and I absorbed them almost imperceptibly.'
"Her parents' generation had a similar effect on the entire nation, and our sense of gratitude to that generation only deepens with the years," Cheney continued.
He said the tools of conflict have changed even since the end of the Vietnam War. Smart bombs, stealth technology, laser range finders and the associated technologies have changed war.
"Yet our most basic military
asset has not changed at all: It is the character, the daring and the resourcefulness
of those who do the fighting," he said. "No matter how complicated war
might be, it always comes down to the ones who fly the planes, man the
ships and carry the rifles."
Posted: 11 November 2001