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COMPACAF sends Memorial Day message

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- On May 28, 2012, we will pause to honor the memory of our service members who gave their lives in their service to our great nation.

For 236 years our military has protected our national interests, at home and abroad in both peacetime and wartime. While our world and our armed forces have changed over the centuries, certain elements of our armed forces remain constant; courage, selflessness, sacrifice, and dedication to duty are the timeless qualities of our men and women in uniform.

Memorial Day is a time for us to pause, reflect, and reconnect with our nation's history and our national values by honoring those who fought and died for the very ideals we cherish, and to also thank those that stand between us and tyranny today.

Just last month I was at a ceremony honoring the 70th anniversary of the Doolittle Raiders. While only five of the 80 Doolittle Raiders are still with us, we honor them all by remembering what they did for our country in our darkest days after the attacks on Oahu and our entry into WWII.

Eight of those Airmen were captured; three were shot by their captors, another died in captivity, and the last four were in captivity for a total of three years. Our duty and obligation is to ensure we carry forward the legacy of these brave souls and millions of others who have sacrificed in service and dedication to this county, since our forefathers fight for independence.

Many American servicemen and women have selflessly given their lives - some more than 200 years ago, some this week in Afghanistan - all in the defense of freedom. When called upon to defend the rights and liberties of this nation, American Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Coastguardsmen have responded courageously. Their sacrifice will not be forgotten and their achievements will forever be woven into the history of the United States, and the legacy of valor for their courageous service and sacrifice.

We ask you continue to keep these patriots in your thoughts and prayers, and to realize we enjoy America's freedoms because of the brave men and women who selflessly answer their nations call to protect our freedoms and our way of life. May we never forget the sacrifices of our service members, or those of their families from Lexington and Concord to today's fight for freedom around the globe. Memorial Day is a time to reflect and remember those who paid the ultimate price, while at the same time reminding ourselves of what service to our nation ultimately means.

This Memorial Day, we remember, we celebrate, and we thank those who have served, and especially those who have given their all to preserve our freedoms. They are our heroes. We honor their courage and sacrifice by remembering them, this and every day.