But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, 19 November 1863
But it is not the physical scale and executive efficiency of preparation, supply, equipment and despatch that I would dwell upon, but the mettle and quality of the officers and men we sent over and of the sailors who kept the seas, and the spirit of the nation that stood behind them. No soldiers or sailors ever proved themselves more quickly ready for the test of battle or acquitted themselves with more splendid courage and achievement when put to the test. Those of us who played some part in directing the great processes by which the war was pushed irresistibly forward to the final triumph may now forget all that and delight our thoughts with the story of what our men did. Their officers understood the grim and exacting task they had undertaken and performed it with an audacity, efficiency, and unhesitating courage that touch the story of convoy and battle with imperishable distinction at every turn, whether the enterprise were great or small, from their great chiefs, Pershing and Sims, down to the youngest lieutenant; and their men were worthy of them,-such men as hardly need to be commanded, and go to their terrible adventure blithely and with the quick intelligence of those who know just what it is they would accomplish. I am proud to be the fellow-countryman of men of such stuff and valor. Those of us who stayed at home did our duty; the war could not have been won or the gallant men who fought it given their opportunity to win it otherwise; but for many a long day we shall think ourselves “accurs’d we were not there, and hold our manhoods cheap while any speaks that fought” with these at St. Mihiel or Thierry. The memory of those days of triumphant battle will go with these fortunate men to their graves; and each will have his favorite memory. “Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot, but hell remember with advantages what feats he did that day!”
What we all thank God for with deepest gratitude is that our men went in force into the line of battle just at the critical moment when the whole fate of the world seemed to hang in the balance and threw their fresh strength into the ranks of freedom in time to turn the whole tide and sweep of the fateful struggle,-turn it once for all, so that thenceforth it was back, back, back for their enemies, always back, never again forward!
Woodrow Wilson, address to Congress after the end of World War I, 2 December 1918
On this Army Day, freedom-loving men all over the world rise with us to salute our fighting men and devoted women of the Army. Our American soldier is respected everywhere for his courage, admired for his fighting skill, and loved for his charm and simplicity. Like his gallant brother in arms in the United States Navy, he is the symbol of our traditions and our hopes.
Our Army has written many glorious chapters in the Nation’s history, but none so brilliant as the last. Its story in this war has been written in every corner of the globe–on the continent of Europe; in the wastes of the Arctic; over the vast expanse of the Pacific; in jungle and desert; on mountains and over the beaches. It is a glorious history of men against the forces of nature as well as against the forces of evil.
Harry Truman, national address on Army Day, 6 April 1946
I can’t say enough in praise of our military – Army rangers and paratroopers, Navy, Marine, and Air Force personnel – those who planned a brilliant campaign and those who carried it out. Almost instantly, our military seized the two airports, secured the campus where most of our students were, and are now in the mopping-up phase. …J. E. Dyer
About the Author: J.E. Dyer is a retired US Naval intelligence officer who served around the world, afloat and ashore, from 1983 to 2004.
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