By SOF Editor on Wed, 11/11/2009 - 1:03pm
The Commanding General of Multi-National Force - Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno, praises all who have served the United States in this, his 2009 Veterans Day letter.
To the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and Civilians of Multi-National Force - Iraq:
John F. Kennedy once said that "a nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers."
The American tradition of setting a day aside to remember those who have served in our military dates back to Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I.
Ninety years later, on this day we honor all American veterans who have served our nation in times of war and peace, knowing that the call to defend freedom can come at a moment's notice.
This country is what it is today because of the heroic actions and sacrifices of its veterans whose service has ensured our freedom and way of life since the birth of our nation.
Behind each and every service member there is a family that must bear the burden of worry and separation so that their loved one can carry out their duty for the nation.
On this Veterans Day, we remember that freedom does in fact have a price, and thank both the service members and their families who have paid that price on behalf of an entire country.
Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who are serving at home and around the globe proudly join the ranks of the 23 million veterans alive today.
These brave patriots served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, and the Global War on Terror. They fought for the security of our country and the peace of the world. They defended our democratic ideals, protected the innocent, and liberated the oppressed from tyranny and terror. They have known the hardships, the fears, and the tragic losses of war.
As veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I thank you all for the daily sacrifices and hardships you endure in order to accomplish our mission. Your efforts serve a noble cause, to build a stable, sovereign, and self-reliant Iraq so that the Iraqi people may cherish the same freedoms that we do.
Though our work is tough, we alone know the special bond of friendship that is formed when entrusting your life in the hands of another; just as we are forever connected to the long line of veterans who have come before us, donned a uniform and swore an oath to protect the United States of America.
God bless you all, and God bless all of our brothers and sisters-in-arms.
With respect and admiration,
Raymond T. Odierno
General, United States Army