President Lincoln stood at the battlefield at Gettysburg and declared that that ground had been consecrated by the blood of the brave men who struggled there. For centuries valiant Americans have struggled, bled, and died in defense of freedom and the values for which this nation stands. As a result, there are hallowed places across the world that have been consecrated by the blood of those who have fought for liberty and justice.
At places such as Flanders Field, Normandy Beach, northern Africa, Somalia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Eastern Europe, Central America, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as on the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific, Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice and have thereby consecrated those sites.
As a combat commander who led a rifle platoon into battle, I especially want to acknowledge the more than 58,000 young Americans who laid down their lives in the effort to enable others to live in freedom. I've walked in the mountains and valleys of that farflung part of the world, on ground consecrated by brave warriors. Let us never forget them or the thousands of others who have who have given all for us.