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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release November 7, 1997




Americans have always looked to the future. Planning for next week, next month, or next year, we rarely dwell on the past, but rather look ahead to tomorrow. But each year in November, we pause to look back, to reflect with pride and profound gratitude on the achievements of our Nation's veterans. The service and sacrifice of these millions of courageous men and women is a gleaming thread that weaves, unbroken, through the fabric of American history.

More than two centuries ago, the framers of our Constitution outlined in a few brief words the burden and privilege that generations of American veterans would willingly embrace: to "provide for the common defence . . . and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity . . . ." Since the days of the American Revolution, nearly 42 million patriots have taken up arms to defend America and to guarantee that the blessings of liberty are, indeed, secure. From Lexington and Concord to Fort McHenry and San Juan Hill, from the Argonne Forest to the shores of Normandy, from the frozen terrain of Korea to the jungles of Vietnam and the sands of Kuwait, America's veterans have risked -- and more than half a million have lost -- their lives to preserve our freedom and defend our national interests.

Today, more than 25 million American veterans live among us. They come from every walk of life and from every ethnic, religious, and racial background. They are our family members, friends, and neighbors, but these seemingly ordinary citizens have accomplished extraordinary things. They have defended our liberty against every challenge, preserved our values, advanced democracy across the globe, and made America the world's best hope for freedom and lasting peace.

For these contributions, and for so much more, we owe our veterans an enormous debt of gratitude that we can never fully repay. To those who have completed their service and returned to civilian life, we owe the opportunity for a good education, a good job, and the chance to buy a home. For those who have suffered injury or illness in service to America, we must provide relief, quality health care, and the opportunity to live out their dreams. To the families of those still missing, we owe the fullest possible accounting and every effort to determine the fate of their loved ones. And to those who have died for us and for our country, whether here at home or on some foreign battlefield, we owe our lasting respect and the pledge to meet America's future challenges with the same valor and generosity that infused their sacrifice.

In recognition of and gratitude for the contributions of those who have served in our Armed Forces, the Congress has provided (5 U.S.C. 6103(a)) that November 11 of each year shall be set aside as a legal public holiday to honor America's veterans.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Tuesday, November 11, 1997, as Veterans Day. I urge all Americans to acknowledge the courage and sacrifice of our veterans through appropriate public ceremonies and private prayers. I call upon Federal, State, and local officials to display the flag of the United States and to encourage and participate in patriotic activities in their communities. I invite civic and fraternal organizations, places of worship, schools, businesses, unions, and the media to support this national observance with suitable commemorative expressions and programs.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventh day of November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-second.


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