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Veterans Day 2004, Remembering the Sacrifice of Our Troops
by Senator Lisa Murkowski


November 11, 2004

Eighty-six years ago, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, World War I ended. That war was called the war to end all wars. But, tragically 21 years after the Armistice, a far more devastating war engulfed the world. Five years after World War II ended, the Korean conflict began. And 11 years after Korea's fighting subsided the Vietnam War was in full bloom. Sixteen years after the last American Marine fled from the roof of our embassy in Saigon, the first Persian Gulf War was underway, while the current Iraq war followed only a dozen years later.

It must never be forgotten that American soldiers have made the ultimate sacrifice many times since that "war to end all wars," to preserve and defend freedom around the globe. Many others returned home and still bear the scars of war. Armistice Day on Nov. 11 has evolved into Veterans Day -- a day to honor all those who have served this country in our time of need.

The United States has found it necessary to defend freedom many times since World War I. Time and again, patriotic Americans have answered their nation's call, asking little in return. They felt it their duty as Americans to fight for their country. Veterans' Day honors those who were willing to put their lives on the line for our freedom. They were willing to be sent to far-away lands and fight wars, knowing that they might not return, so that others can live in freedom and safety.

This year I am especially honored to recognize the never forgotten members of Alaska's Territorial Guard, who defended Alaska during World War II. This proud and humble group fought and then went back to their Alaskan way of life - without enjoying the benefits offered all other veterans. Finally, after many years, Congress has taken the steps to ensure that these veterans will receive the same rights and burial benefits as other veterans who have served our nation honorably. It is to these brave men and women that I say a special thank you to them and their families for their incredible contribution to our Alaskan way of life.

This Veterans' Day, I join all Alaskans in saluting our nation's veterans. I encourage everyone to take the time to thank veterans for their service. To all veterans, thank you from the bottom of my heart for ensuring that my children and their children will remain free and continue to live in the greatest land on the globe.



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