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Public Papers - 1991 - November

Address to the Nation Commemorating Veterans Day

1991-11-09

At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the guns fell silent and the First World War came to an end. Ever since, Americans have set aside November 11th to honor our veterans, our heroes, whose footsteps set the pace of freedom's march.

From the fiery birth of our Nation to freedom's latest triumph in the Persian Gulf, America's veterans have always answered the call and given their all whenever freedom was threatened or democracy imperiled.

They called World War I the war to end all wars. But that was not to be. In 1939 democracy was once again threatened, and by the end of 1941, the world was again at war. Americans fought not only for their rights and freedoms, but for those of millions of people throughout the world.

Today, however, with communism defeated and democracy sweeping the globe, our hope grows stronger that war will vanish and a more civilized world, based on friendship, cooperation, and a commitment to peace will emerge.

This Veterans Day, we owe particular gratitude to the men and women veterans of Desert Storm. It is important to honor all veterans, particularly those who fought so bravely during World War II as we prepare to commemorate the 50th anniversary of what we hope to be the last World War.

Like the veterans of World War II, Desert Storm veterans went proudly, willingly, on a mission of high principle and noble purpose: to defeat aggression and defend freedom. In a faraway land they battled the enemy in the field and the inner enemy of fear. Through their sacrifice, they put an end to brutal aggression. They freed a captive nation and set America free by renewing our faith in ourselves.

From the time Operation Desert Shield began, a sacred bond grew between Americans here at home and those serving in the Gulf, much the same as it had during World War II. Think of all those yellow ribbons and those blue stars in the windows during World War II. Think of how the American family has never been more united. That bond, that unity, and that love must be preserved.

President Coolidge said long ago, ``The nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten.'' No Commander in Chief forgets the sacrifices of America's veterans. Nor will America forget those who do the hard work of freedom.

To the men and women of our Armed Forces and to all our veterans, you know that you have your country's gratitude on Veterans Day and every day of the year.

May God bless America and the veterans who keep her free.

Note: The President recorded this address on October 28 in Room 459 of the Old Executive Office Building for broadcast at 9 a.m. on November 9. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this address.

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