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Graphic for the Veterans Crisis Line. It reads Veterans Cris Lins 1 800 273 8255 press 1

Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

Remarks by Secretary Eric K. Shinseki

Veterans Day
Arlington National Cemetery
November 11, 2009

Mr. President; First Lady, Michelle Obama; Vice President and Mrs. Biden; Medal of Honor recipients, Harold Fritz and Brian Thacker; Members of Congress; Chairman Mullen, Service Secretaries, Members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Gene Crayton, President, Paralyzed Veterans of America, our co-host for this year’s celebration; other representatives of our Veterans service organizations; fellow Veterans, other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: Good morning.

Today, Americans come together to honor and thank those who have safeguarded our Nation both in peace and in war. Veterans Day is a time to renew our national commitment to those who have borne the battle. Our character as a Nation is revealed through the honor we accord them, and measured by the respect with which we care for them.

President Obama has called for a Department of Veterans Affairs that is Veteran-centric, results-oriented, and forward-looking. We are privileged and honored to have that mission, and I am proud of the 298,000 great Americans who come to work everyday to serve Veterans, over 30% of them Veterans themselves.

In partnership with the Congress, our Nation’s Veterans service organizations, and the American people, we will ensure that America’s legacy is one of unwavering commitment to, and compassionate care for, its 23 million Veterans.

From Lexington and Concord to Antietam and Gettysburg to the Marne River and Bastogne, Iwo Jima, the Chosin Reservoir, the Ia Drang Valley and Khe Sanh to Fallujah in Iraq and the Shah-e-Kot Valley in Afghanistan—and countless other places—the warriors we honor today have earned the love, respect, and admiration of a grateful Nation.

Our guest, today, leads our efforts to honor Veterans with great passion and resolve. I know this first hand. There is no stronger advocate for those who serve in uniform, today, and have served our Nation in years past.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great personal pleasure and professional pride that I present to you our Commander-in-Chief—the President of the United States of America.