ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, Nov. 12, 2008) -- Vice President Dick Cheney spoke to hundreds at the 55th annual Arlington National Cemetery Veteran's Day observance, praising the courage and valor of American Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen.
"No single military power in history has done greater good, shown greater courage, liberated more people or upheld higher standards of decency and valor than the armed forces of the United States of America," Cheney said. "That is a legacy to be proud of and those who contributed to it must never be taken for granted."
Cheney said that he was recently told the story of a young Italian boy who was taken by his father to visit Rome. The trip ended with a visit to a military cemetery, where hundreds of American Soldiers from World War II are buried.
The boy's father told him to look at the names, the birth dates and the death dates, telling him to remember the sacrifices that so many young men had made. Italy owes them a debt that can't be repaid, the boy's father told him, and that should never be forgotten.
The boy who told him the story, Cheney said, was Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
"In a world of so many perils - from hunger and disease, to political oppression, to the spread of deadly technology - America remains the best hope of those who suffer and live in fear," Cheney said. "Our cause is liberty, justice and peace. And millions breathe free today because of American Soldiers who fought and sacrificed for that cause."
Michael McCoy, national president of the Military Chaplains Association, thanked veterans for the hardships they endured, on and off the battlefield, to preserve American ideals.
"We as a people can take part in an occasion like this ... thanks to the sacrifice of those we honor today," McCoy said.
McCoy also highlighted the need for proper care for veterans returning from theater. He said that support for the troops doesn't end when they come back home; they need our support for the rest of their lives.
"Everyone who goes to war comes home changed. Some of the scars are easy to see, some of them are hidden," he said. "These hidden wounds often remain long after the other ones heal."
Cheney also stressed the importance of the search for prisoners of war or Soldiers declared missing in action. According to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, more than 80,000 American troops are still unaccounted for from all conflicts since World War II.
"We must care for those who have been injured in the service of our country. We must honor and remember those who have died. And we must remember those whose fate is still undetermined," Cheney said. 'This nation will not relent until we have accounted for every last one of our missing Americans.'
(Ian Graham writes for the Pentagram newspaper at Fort Myer, Va.)