George W. Bush photo

The President's Radio Address

May 26, 2001

Good morning. Most Americans are enjoying a 3-day weekend this Saturday, and I hope you are enjoying yours. I also hope you'll find the time to share in our Nation's observance of Memorial Day, when we pause to reflect on the cost of the free lives we live today.

I will be marking the day with military veterans gathering at the White House, who knew and remember the people who never came back from our Nation's wars. I will then go to Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. It will be a high honor, and I will be there on behalf of all the people of the United States. Later that day I will join with veterans in Arizona for a commemoration and national moment of remembrance.

Most of us know war veterans. I had the privilege of being raised by one. Usually, they are reticent about their experiences. It is often difficult for them to think back on those names and faces, on the ones who never lived to be called veterans. But on Memorial Day, we accept our obligation to do just that.

We will remember the heroism, the hardship, the national gain, and personal loss our wars have brought. America has been given so much, but of all our assets, resources, and strengths, none have counted for more than the courage of young soldiers in the face of battle.

When war has come, the great decisions were made here at the White House. But when the orders went out and were received half a world away, victory has always come down to the people flying the planes, manning the ships, carrying the gun and the pack. They're the ones who have cleared the seas, crossed the rivers, charged the hills, and covered the skies. They have defended us. They have died for us. They have never disappointed us. We are in their debt more than a lifetime of Memorial Days could ever repay. With their sacrifice comes a duty that will go on through the generations, to honor them in our thoughts, in our words, and in our lives.

Every Memorial Day we try to grasp the extent of this loss and the meaning of this sacrifice, but it always seems more than words can convey. In the end, all we can do is be thankful; all we can do is remember and always appreciate the price that was paid for our own lives and our own freedom.

Thank you for listening.

NOTE: The address was recorded at 3:40 p.m. on May 24 in the Cabinet Room at the White House for broadcast at 10:06 a.m. on May 26. The transcript was made available by the Office of the Press Secretary on May 25 but was embargoed for release until the broadcast. The Office of the Press Secretary also released a Spanish language transcript of this address.

George W. Bush, The President's Radio Address Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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