WASHINGTON, Nov. 9, 2011 — Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta today joined President Barack Obama in recognizing the contributions veterans have made throughout U.S. history and the sacrifices U.S. military members continue to make in defending its freedoms.
“On my first Veterans Day as secretary of defense, I want to extend my deepest thanks to all of you serving this country in uniform,” Panetta said in a video to the force being aired worldwide on the Pentagon Channel and Armed Forces Network.
“In traveling to the front lines, in visiting with wounded warriors, I have been inspired by the patriotism and dedication of our service members,” the secretary continued. “Over the past 10 years of war, you have done all that was asked of you — and more. You truly are the next Greatest Generation.”
Panetta recognized military members’ bravery and selfless service as they’ve defended the nation since its inception.
“Our veterans and current service members deserve our country’s gratitude — not just on Veterans Day, but every day,” he said. “Thank you, and may God bless you and your families.”
The president, in a proclamation released earlier this week, noted the sterling example veterans have shown throughout history as they put their country ahead of themselves.
“In times of war and peace alike, our veterans have served with courage and distinction in the face of tremendous adversity, demonstrating an unfaltering commitment to America and our people,” Obama said. “Many have made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the country they loved.”
The president noted that many veterans, after leaving military service, have continued to serve as leaders in their communities and workplaces.
The selflessness of military members and veterans is “unmatched,” Obama said, noting veterans provide a reminder that “there are few things more fundamentally American than doing our utmost to make a difference in the lives of others.”
In return, the United States has a moral obligation to ensure that veterans receive support “for as long as they live as proud veterans of the United States armed forces,” the president said. He pledged to honor troops performing missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as all others who serve or have served in uniform “by working tirelessly to give them the care, the benefits, and the opportunities they have earned.”
“On Veterans Day, we pay tribute to our veterans, to the fallen and to their families,” Obama said. “Let us rededicate ourselves to serving them as well as they have served the United States of America.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)