Secretary's 2004 Memorial Day Message

Friday, May 28, 2004

It is estimated that more than 1.2 million Americans have died in military actions from the Revolution of 1776 through the war on terror. On Memorial Day, we pay homage to them and follow President Lincoln's resolve at Gettysburg that "these honored dead...shall not have died in vain."

This year, we pay special tribute to the heroes of World War II and of the present war on terrorism.

On Saturday, May 29, our nation dedicates a great memorial in the Nation's Capital to those who served in the Second World War. World War II was marked by the battles of massed armies on land, at sea, and in the air. In that war, you knew friend from enemy: there were national uniforms and contrasting insignia. Our soldiers knew the danger in which they were placing themselves, but fought with daring and courage.

The war on terror is different in some ways. The 9/11 attack that began the war was intended to frighten, not to cripple. Our forces in Afghanistan and in Iraq fight against cowards who hide in caves or destroy themselves to take down Americans. Yet our men and women in uniform are not intimidated. They fight proudly and bravely.

Though these two wars have their differences, the adversary is the same: those who hate freedom, equal rights and personal dignity, and envy the countries that embody them. The Americans who have fallen in these wars defended home and family and sacrificed their lives to serve the enduring principles that separate civilization from brutality.

HUD honors our employees and associates with loved ones in military service and those who have lost family members in past or present military actions. We honor the sacrifice of America's military heroes by respecting the great cause of freedom to which they gave all they had to give.

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