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Bush Honors Veterans, War Dead on Memorial Day - 2004-05-31

Across the United States, Americans are observing Memorial Day, a day set aside to honor the country's war dead. President Bush led the nation in remembering the fallen.

The sound of a lone trumpet filled the hills of Arlington National Cemetery, as President Bush laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

As he walked away, a military honor guard remained, keeping watch over the remains of three unidentified soldiers, who have come to symbolize a nation's loss. "The soldiers entrusted with that duty count it a privilege. And, today, as we reflect on the men and women who have died in the defense of America, all of us count it a privilege to be citizens of the country they served," he said.

Mr. Bush spoke of the courage and humanity of America's military men and women. Standing in an amphitheatre not far from the tomb, and surrounded by endless rows of marked graves, he reflected on the lives lost and the memories that never die. "Although the burden of grief can become easier to bear, always there is the memory of another time and the feeling of sadness over an unfinished life," he said.

He spoke of memories decades old and those still fresh. Mr. Bush took note of the aging World War II veterans who came to Washington for the holiday weekend for the dedication of their national memorial. And he told the stories of some of the American men and women killed recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. "They defended our nation. They liberated the oppressed. They served the cause of peace," he said.

He said America acknowledges a debt to the fallen that is so great it can never be repaid. The president said they are remembered and honored by their country with gratitude and respect on Memorial Day and always.