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Bush Marks Final Veteran's Day as Commander In Chief

Americans paused Tuesday to honor the nation's military veterans. VOA's Paula Wolfson reports President Bush remembered their sacrifice in a speech delivered from the deck of an aircraft carrier that first saw combat in World War II.

In Europe and Australia, the 11th of November is called Remembrance Day or Armistice Day. In the United States, it is Veteran's Day.

The observance began to mark the end of World War I on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

But for Americans, it is a time to honor all those who served in the nation's military - from the Revolutionary War to the present.

The President of the United States traditionally marks the occasion with a visit to Arlington National Cemetery, just across the Potomac River from the White House.

But President Bush chose a different venue for his final Veteran's Day as commander in chief. He spoke on the deck of the USS Intrepid, a decommissioned aircraft carrier that serves as a military and space museum in New York.

"Today, we send a clear message to all who have worn the uniform: thank you for your courage, thank you for your sacrifice, and thank you for standing up when your nation needed you most," Mr. Bush said.

Vice-President Dick Cheney took Mr. Bush's place at Arlington National Cemetery, and placed a wreath at a memorial to the nation's war dead - the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Cheney spoke of the challenges facing the active duty military personnel of today, emphasizing their determination to make the world a safer place.

"There is no mystery behind the endurance and the success of American liberty. It is because in every generation, from the Revolutionary period to this very hour, brave Americans have stepped forward and served honorably in the armed forces of the United States," Cheney said.

Similar, though smaller scale, observances were held at military cemeteries and war memorials across the country. President-elect Barack Obama took part in one such commemoration, laying a wreath at a ceremony in Chicago.

In a written statement, Mr. Obama said all Americans are united in honoring the extraordinary service and selfless sacrifice of the nation's veterans. And he vowed that as the next commander in chief, he will keep America's sacred trust with all those who have served in the military.