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Navajo president calls for nations to recognize service of all veterans

Throughout the course of American history, courageous men and women have taken up arms to secure, defend, and maintain the core values of our nation's freedom. On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists ruthlessly attacked our land and our freedom.

The terrorist attempts to assail our spirit failed, and our nation's response reveals that the spirit of freedom is as strong as ever.

The events of Sept. 11 have caused a great sense of compassion and unity across the United States and around the world. Many young Americans are lining up at recruiting stations to enlist in the Armed Forces. During these times of uncertainty, we have come together through prayer and public events that proclaim respect and love of peace and humanity. Our compassion and unity still reflects in the theme "Spirit of the Navajo Nation: United We Stand."

Our servicemen and servicewomen are now fighting overseas to defeat terrorism, and they are following in the footsteps of the 48 million men and women who, since our nation's founding, have stepped forward to defend our land ? our mother earth. At this moment our Navajo young men and women in all branches of the armed forces are serving around the world. They represent our resolute dedication to achieving lasting peace out of the new challenges and threats of the 21st century.

Today, there are more than 25 million living veterans who have served our nation in times of peace and war ? many of them willingly entered harm's way to fight for our freedom. These veterans have diverse religious beliefs and come from varying backgrounds and ethnicities. By their service, they kept America free and strong, and they have protected our way of life from foe.

Sunday, Nov. 11, 2001, is the official Veterans Day, set aside to recognize and honor all veterans. Several communities throughout the Navajo Nation provide veterans activities for our local warriors. Your time and efforts are encouraging and very much appreciated.

Thinking of Nov. 11, let us pause to reflect on the sacrifices of all of those who have put on the uniform to serve in the United States Armed Forces. Let us honor our veterans who have proved their heroism and love of country time and again through every campaign they served. These men and women consistently defended our ideals around the globe, and they continue to inspire those who defend America today, half a world away.

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More than a million men and women have died in service to our country; and more than a million and a half have been wounded. Some of these men and women have sustained serious injuries in combat and now live with disabilities. Our nation will always be grateful for the noble sacrifices made by these brave men and women.

Each year on Nov. 11, we also pay tribute and recognize those who were killed in action, who were missing in action, and those veterans who have since passed. On Veterans Day, we also honor and recognize the families who have lost their loved ones, as we cannot begin to imagine the grief and sorrow with which you have suffered over the many years.

We can never adequately repay them, but we can honor and respect them for their service. As we consider the sacrifices and efforts of our veterans, we must never forget that freedom is not free.

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Veterans Day 2001 took on extra special meaning. In respect and recognition of the contributions of our servicemen and servicewomen made to the cause of peace and freedom, I urge the Navajo Nation to recognize the valor and sacrifice of all our veterans through appropriate public ceremonies and prayers.

I was proud to announce that in coordination with appropriate agencies, the Navajo Nation and the 50th anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee recognized and honored our Navajo Veterans of the Korean War with the Korean Service Medal Nov. 9, at the Tuba City High School in Tuba City, Ariz.

On Saturday, Nov. 24, 2001, the Navajo Nation, in coordination with the Office of U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., the United States Congress, the United States Mint, the United States Marine Corps, and the White House, will award the Congressional Silver Medal Award to the Navajo Code Talkers of World War II, at a ceremony at Nakai Hall at the Navajo Nation fairgrounds in Window Rock, Ariz.

In closing, I want to remind all my fellow veterans that service to our community did not end with our discharge notices; that our commitment to our community must remain strong. We continue to hold the responsibilities as leaders of our communities, and to work to provide improved services to our communities throughout the Navajo Nation.