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Honoring The Fallen And Those Who Serve
by U.S. Senator Ted Stevens


May 31, 2004

Every year our nation sets a day aside to honor the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedom. In keeping with that tradition, the World War II memorial, the first national memorial dedicated to all who served during World War II, was formally dedicated in Washington, DC on Saturday. As part of the dedication the Smithsonian sponsored the "Tribute to a Generation" reunion, which brought thousands of World War II veterans to our nation's capitol to reflect and remember.

Having visited the memorial earlier this month and spoken with some of the WWII vets there last week, my thoughts have turned back to a time sixty years ago when I was in uniform. In 1943, I left college and entered the Army Air Corps. I was assigned to serve with the 14th Air Force in China and I witnessed the bravery of our troops firsthand.

It was another world then with different enemies and a different kind of war. Sixteen million Americans served in the armed forces during World War II. More than 400,000 of them lost their lives. Overseas our troops fought bravely in campaign after campaign from the Battle of Midway to the Battle of Normandy. Here at home they defended us from attack. In the Territory of Alaska, they fought to defend Dutch Harbor and re-claim Attu and Kiska. Ladd Field, now Fort Wainwright, was a crucial link in the Lend-Lease Route. The bravery and heroism displayed by our troops in World War II has led some to call our generation "the greatest generation."

Today, America's men and women in uniform are defending our nation from terrorists and liberating people throughout the world from tyranny and oppression. They are all volunteers ­ they are truly the next "greatest generation."

It has been said that "If there be any truer measure of a man than by what he does, it must be by what he gives." Many of our soldiers in Iraq and other corners of the world have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of freedom. Today we remember their courage and the bravery of those who came before them. On behalf of our grateful nation, I salute them.



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