USA — President Proclaims ‘National Day of Honor’

WASHINGTON, March 19, 2012 — On the ninth anniver­sary of U.S. forces mov­ing into Iraq, Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma has pro­claimed today to be “A Nation­al Day of Hon­or.”

Here’s is the text of the president’s procla­ma­tion:

Nine years ago, mem­bers of the Unit­ed States Armed Forces crossed the sands of the Iraq-Kuwait bor­der and began one of the most chal­leng­ing mis­sions our mil­i­tary has ever known. They left the com­forts of home and fam­i­ly, vol­un­teer­ing in ser­vice to a cause greater than them­selves. They braved insur­gency and sec­tar­i­an strife, know­ing too well the dan­ger of com­bat and the cost of con­flict. Yet, through the dust and din and the fog of war, they nev­er lost their resolve. Demon­strat­ing unshak­able for­ti­tude and unwa­ver­ing com­mit­ment to duty, our men and women in uni­form served tour after tour, fight­ing block by block to help the Iraqi peo­ple seize the chance for a bet­ter future. And on Decem­ber 18, 2011, their mis­sion came to an end.

Today, we hon­or their suc­cess, their ser­vice, and their sac­ri­fice. In one of our Nation’s longest wars, vet­er­ans of Oper­a­tion Iraqi Free­dom and Oper­a­tion New Dawn wrote one of the most extra­or­di­nary chap­ters in Amer­i­can mil­i­tary his­to­ry. When high­ways became mine fields and uncer­tain­ty wait­ed behind every cor­ner, ser­vice mem­bers rose to meet the task at hand with unmatched courage and deter­mi­na­tion. They learned lan­guages and cul­tures, tak­ing on new roles as diplo­mats and devel­op­ment experts to improve the com­mu­ni­ties where they served. Their strength top­pled a tyrant, and their val­or helped build oppor­tu­ni­ty in oppression’s place. Across near­ly 9 years of con­flict, the glo­ry of their ser­vice — as well as the con­tri­bu­tions of oth­er mem­bers of the U.S. Gov­ern­ment and our coali­tion part­ners — always shone through.

The war left wounds not always seen, but for­ev­er felt. The bur­den of dis­tance and the pain of loss weighed heav­i­ly on the hearts of mil­lions at home and over­seas. Behind every mem­ber of our mil­i­tary stood a par­ent, a spouse, or a son or daugh­ter who proud­ly served their com­mu­ni­ty and prayed for their loved one’s safe return. For wound­ed war­riors, com­ing home marked the end of one bat­tle and the begin­ning of anoth­er — to stand, to walk, to recov­er, and to serve again. And, in war’s most pro­found cost, there were those who nev­er came home. Sep­a­rat­ed by time and space but unit­ed by their love of coun­try, near­ly 4,500 men and women are eter­nal­ly bound; though we have laid them to rest, they will live on in the soul of our Nation now and for­ev­er. To them, to their fam­i­lies, and to all who served, we owe a debt that can nev­er be ful­ly repaid.

When we returned the col­ors of Unit­ed States Forces-Iraq and the last of our troops set foot on Amer­i­can soil, we reflect­ed on the extra­or­di­nary ser­vice and sac­ri­fice of those who answered our country’s call. Their exam­ple embod­ied that fun­da­men­tal Amer­i­can faith that tells us no mis­sion is too hard, no chal­lenge is too great, and that through tests and through tri­als, we will always emerge stronger than before. Now, our Nation reaf­firms our com­mit­ment to serve vet­er­ans of Iraq as well as they served us — to uphold the sacred trust we share with all who have worn the uni­form. Our future is brighter for their ser­vice, and today, we express our grat­i­tude by say­ing once more: Wel­come home.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca, by virtue of the author­i­ty vest­ed in me by the Con­sti­tu­tion and the laws of the Unit­ed States, do here­by pro­claim March 19, 2012, as a Nation­al Day of Hon­or. I call upon all Amer­i­cans to observe this day with appro­pri­ate pro­grams, cer­e­monies, and activ­i­ties that com­mem­o­rate the return of the Unit­ed States Armed Forces from Iraq.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have here­un­to set my hand this nine­teenth day of March, in the year of our Lord two thou­sand twelve, and of the Inde­pen­dence of the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca the two hun­dred and thir­ty-sixth.


U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)