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The Fallen And Those Who Serve
By Senator Ted Stevens


May 30, 2005

Earlier this month - on May 8th - our nation marked the 60th anniversary of the Allied victory in Europe during World War II.  And, later this summer - on August 15th - we will mark the anniversary of our victory in Japan.  Having commemorated V-E Day just a couple of weeks ago, my thoughts have turned back to a time when I was in uniform. 
It has been more than 50 years since I returned home from World War II.  I went into the service - as most of my generation did ­ and was fortunate to do what I wanted to do, which was fly.  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. 
Sixty years ago, for those of us who served, every day was a milestone.  Each day marked another step toward victory. 
We now recognize only a handful of those days:  Pearl Harbor Day, D-Day, V-J Day, and V-E Day.  But today - on Memorial Day - we honor each day in our history that young Americans have answered the call to serve and paid the ultimate price.
We also honor the young men and women in uniform who defend us today.  It takes an extraordinary person to do the job we now ask of the military.  They truly are the next "greatest generation." 
Their commitment to the mission and their bravery remind me of a story from my World War II days.  During the war, General George Marshall was asked if the Americans had a secret weapon to win the war.  He said, "Yes.  Our secret weapon is the best darned kids in the world."  General Marshall's words endure today.
Those who serve today and those of us who served during World War II share a common bond; we are comrades in the deepest sense of the word.  Today, all Americans honor their service and the sacrifices of those who came before them.  On behalf of our grateful nation, I salute them.



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