Remarks by President Ronald Reagan
Veterans Day National Ceremony
Arlington National Cemetery
November 11, 1988
PRESIDENT REAGAN: Those who live today remember those who do not. Those who know freedom remember today those who gave up life for freedom.
Today, in honor of the dead, we conduct ceremonies. We lay wreaths. We speak words of tribute. And in our memories, in our hearts, we hold them close to us still. Yet we also know, even as their families knew when they last looked upon them, that they can never be fully ours again, that they belong now to God and to that for which they so selflessly made a final and eternal act of devotion.
We could not forget them. Even if they were not our own, we could not forget them. For all time, they are what we can only aspire to be: giving, unselfish, the epitome of human love — to lay down one’s life so that others might live.
We think on their lives. We think on their final moments. In our mind’s eye, we see young Americans in a European forest or on an Asian island or at sea or in aerial combat.
And as life expired, we know that those who could had last thoughts of us and of their love for us. As they thought of us then, so, too, we think of them now, with love, with devotion, and with faith: the certainty that what they died for was worthy of their sacrifice — faith, too, in God and in the Nation that has pledged itself to His work and to the dream of human freedom, and a nation, too, that today and always pledges itself to their eternal memory.
Thank you. God bless you.
Veterans Day Remarks
Remarks by President George W. Bush
Veterans Day National Ceremony
Arlington National Cemetery
November 11, 2003
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you all very much. Thank you for the warm welcome. Thank you, Secretary Principi, for doing a really fine job to represent our nation’s veterans. Members of the Cabinet, members of the Congress, members of our military, veterans, Commander Berger, representatives of veterans organizations, and fellow Americans: Laura and I are proud to join all of you and citizens across our country as we honor the service of America ‘s veterans.
We observe Veterans Day on an anniversary — not of a great battle or of the beginning of a war, but of a day when war ended and our nation was again at peace. Ever since the Armistice of November the 11th,1918 , this has been a day to remember our debt to all who have worn the uniform of the United States.
Our veterans have borne the costs of America ‘s wars and have stood watch over America ‘s peace. And, today, every veteran can be certain: The nation you served and the people you defended are grateful.
Our nation knows this National Cemetery as the final resting place of those lost to the violence of war. Yet, most of the markers here stand over the graves of Americans who lived beyond their years of military service. On the hills of Arlington and in the daily lives of our country, veterans have a special place. We honor them all for their service in uniform. And we honor America ‘s veterans for the full lives of their service they continue to lead.
Today, more than 25 million Americans wear the proud title of veteran, or retired military. Their ranks include young men and women who gave good years to our all-volunteer military and recently returned to civilian life. Our veterans include more than 11 million men and women from the conflicts of Korea and Vietnam , who earned this nation’s gratitude and respect. More than 4 million living Americans served in World War II, under the command of Eisenhower and Bradley and Nimitz. And on Veterans Day 2003, it is still possible to thank, in person, almost 200 Americans who were in uniform when the guns of World War I went silent 85 years from today. All the men who served when Woodrow Wilson was the Commander-in-Chief are now more than 100 years old, and they can know that America is still proud of them.
Every veteran has his or her own story of entering military service. Many enlisted on Monday morning, December 8th, 1941, or at the beginning of other conflicts. For some, military life began with the initiation at an academy. For others, it began with a letter from the United States government. Yet when their service is complete, veterans of every era, every background and every branch have certain things in common. And those shared commitments and experience formed bonds that last a lifetime.
Every veteran has lived by a strict code of discipline. Every veteran understands the meaning of personal accountability and loyalty and shared sacrifice. From the moment you repeated the oath to the day of your honorable discharge, your time belonged to America; your country came before all else. And whether you served abroad or at home, you have shared in the responsibility of maintaining the finest fighting force in the world.
Veterans who took the oath and served in battle have known the hardships and the fears and the tragic losses of war. These memories follow them through life, and are sometimes hard to bear. Yet our war veterans, wherever they fought, can know this: In the harshest hours of conflict, they serve just and honorable purposes.
Americans are a peaceful people, and this nation has always gone to war reluctantly, and always for a noble cause. America ‘s war veterans have fought for the security of this nation, for the safety of our friends, and for the peace of the world. They humbled tyrants and defended the innocent, and liberated the oppressed. And across the Earth, you will find entire nations that once lived in fear, where men and women still tell of the day when Americans came and set them free.
America ‘s mission in the world continues, and we count on the same kind of people to carry it out. Today, in assignments around the world, more than 1.4 million Americans are on active duty, earning the title of veteran by serving in the cause of freedom. In two years and two months since our country was attacked, the men and women of our Armed Forces have engaged the terrorist enemy on many fronts. They’ve confronted grave dangers to defend the safety of the American people. They have liberated two nations — Afghanistan and Iraq — delivering more than 50 million people from the hands of dictators. Those who serve and fight today are adding great achievements of their own to America ‘s history. America is grateful for their daring, grateful for their honor, and grateful for their sacrifice.
On this Veterans Day, with our nation at war, Americans are deeply aware of the current military struggle and of recent sacrifice. Young Americans have died in liberating Iraq and Afghanistan. They’ve died in securing freedom in those countries. The loss is terrible. It is borne especially by the families left behind. But in their hurt and in their loneliness, I want these families to know your loved one served in a good and just cause. They died in distant lands to fight terror, to advance freedom and to protect America. They did not live to be called veterans, but this nation will never forget their lives of service and all they did for us.
At this hour, many thousands are following their duty at great risk. One young man serving in Iraq recently said this: “We in the military signed up and pledged to protect this great country of ours from enemies foreign and domestic. We’re fighting,” he said, “so that the next generation might never have to experience anything like September the 11th, 2001 .”
Today and every day, the prayers of the American people are with those who wear our country’s uniform. They serve a great cause and they follow a great tradition, handed down to them by America ‘s veterans. Our veterans from every era are the finest of citizens. We owe them the life we know today. They command the respect of the American people, and they have our lasting gratitude.
Thank you for coming today. May God bless America , and may God bless all who defend it.
The Declaration of Independence
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.