WASHINGTON, May 27, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel today honored those who have given their lives in the nation’s defense and those who serve today – as well as their families – in his Memorial Day message to the men and women of the Defense Department.
Here is the text of the secretary’s message:
Today is a day for all Americans to gather with friends and family in communities across the country to enjoy each other’s company, and honor those generations of patriots who have fought and died in uniform to preserve the freedoms we all cherish. We also grieve with those families who lost loved ones too soon – parents, wives, husbands, sons, and daughters for whom Memorial Day will always be a time of solemn remembrance. The perseverance and resilience of our military families is the bedrock of our military strength.
Over more than a decade of sustained war, the United States has been blessed to have millions of men and women step forward to serve, to risk their lives and stand watch in every corner of the world to defend our nation. Today we remember the more than 6,600 men and women in uniform who have perished on distant battlefields since September 11th, 2001.
The men and women that serve today are as humble, patriotic, and selfless as any generation that has come before them. Many have deployed on multiple tours — active duty, guardsmen, and reservists — all citizens doing their part for the country they love. They continue to make enormous sacrifices, along with their families. We owe them and their families our most heartfelt thanks and constant support, for they have added another chapter to our nation’s book of honor.