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5/25/03 - MEMORIAL DAY 2003 - 2003-05-27

Today is Memorial Day in the United States -- a time when Americans honor those who have given their lives in defense of the United States and its way of life.

Since 1775, Americans have fought the enemies of freedom in many places -- from the muddy fields of France to the frozen hills of Korea. Today, they and their allies are fighting and winning the war against global terrorism. Since the al-Qaida terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, U.S.-led coalitions have freed Afghanistan and Iraq from repressive regimes that sponsored terrorism. But victory is not without cost. President George W. Bush paid tribute to the Americans who paid freedom's highest price:

"Every name, every life is a loss to our military, to our nation, and to the loved ones who grieve. Those we lost were last seen on duty. Their final act on this earth was to fight a great evil and bring liberty to others."

War has changed fundamentally since the time Americans fought for independence from Britain in 1775. The U.S. and other countries are threatened by terrorists who have shown that there is no weapon they will not use and no life they will not take to achieve their aims. Defeating such an enemy is a great challenge, but Americans are prepared to meet it, as President Bush made clear:

"The character of our military through history --the daring of [the landing at] Normandy [in Nazi-occupied France during the Second World War], the fierce courage of [those who fought Japanese aggression at Pacific islands such as] Iwo Jima, the decency and idealism that turned enemies into allies -- is fully present in this generation."

Weapons and tactics have changed, but the cause for which Americans fight, said President Bush, has not:

"American values and American interests lead in the same direction. We stand for human liberty."

America's servicemen and women, said President Bush, "protect the democratic ideals on which our country was founded, and they have never let our country down."