Bush, Obama Honor Nation's Veterans

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President Bush saluted the men and women, both past and present, who have ever served in the U.S. military, as he spoke from the Manhatten pier that is now the permanet dock of the World War II aircraft carrier Intrepid.

"Veterans have inspired me," Bush said. "I was raised by a veteran. I appreciate the commitment to our country that the veterans have made."

"Our nation is blessed because our liberties have been defended by brave men and women in the past and we are blessed to have brave men and women defend our liberties today," the President said.

The president spoke to an audience of more 2,500 war veterans on the deck of the carrier. He especially paid tribute to those who served on the Intrepid -- and to those he calls a "new generation of heroes" serving in the War on Terror.

Launched in 1943, the U.S.S. Intrepid served as a warship in six major Pacific theater campaigns. The carrier survived five Japanese kamikaze planes and a torpedo during the war: 270 crew members lost their lives in combat.

The ceremony today also marke the rededication ceremony of the Intrepid Air, Sea & Space Museum.

Obama Also Honors Vets

President-elect Barack Obama paused to honor the nation's military veterans on Tuesday.

Obama placed a memorial wreath at the bronze soldiers memorial that stands between the Field Musuem and Soldiers Field in Chicago.

The Illinois senator was accompanied by Tammy Duckworth, a disabled Iraq war veteran and 2006 failed congressional candidate who now is the Illinois governor's veterans affairs director. 

Obama moved a pre-positioned wreath a few feet closer to the front of the memorial that bore the phrase "dedicated to the defenders of our liberty."  He and Duckworth bowed their heads briefly and then each saluted.

In his statement Obama praised "the extraordinary service and selfless sacrifice of our nation's veterans" who have "defended the American people and stood up for American values."

"Since 9/11, a new generation of American heroes has borne a heavy load in facing down the threats of the 21st century, and their families have been asked to bear the painful absence of a loved one," he said.  "These Americans are the best and bravest among us, and they are all in our thoughts and prayers."

After the brief ceremony, Obama planned to meet in private with top advisers who are mapping our the transition of power in January.

Cheney Honors War Dead at Arlington

Meanwhile, as a part of the traditional Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Vice President Dick Cheney placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Hundreds of people, from tourists to Cabinet members, stopped to watch the solemn ceremony.

Cheney placed the wreath dotted with flowers and a ribbon of red, white, and blue on its stand in front of the tomb. He then held the ribbon on the wreath in his hand for a few moments. A U.S. Army bugler the played "Taps."

Veteran's Day Remembered

Ninety-years ago today, the "war to end all wars" came to an end through an armistice between the Allied Nations and Germany on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

Even though a treaty would not be signed until the following June, the bloody fighting of the Great War or World War I was over.

In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day.

"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…," Wilson told the nation.

That remembrance continues to this day as America honors all of her military veterans both living and dead with speeches, parades, luncheons and firework displays.

Sources: The Associated Press, ABC News, United States Department of Veterans Affairs

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