President Bush observed Memorial Day on Monday with praise for the "fierce courage" of U.S. servicemembers in Afghanistan and Iraq and said "two terror regimes" are gone and America is safer because of their bravery.
Bush, joined by Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. First lady Laura Bush also attended.
After laying the wreath near the tomb, which holds the unidentified remains of U.S. soldiers who fought and died in several wars, Bush led the nation in remembering those who paid the ultimate price in service to the country.
In his remarks, he made passing reference to ongoing conflicts involving the United States and the thousands of troops serving there.
"We have seen the character of the men and women who wear our country's uniform in places like Kabul and Kandahar, in Mosul and Baghdad. We have seen their decency and their brave spirit," Bush told a rain-sprinkled crowd of several hundred.
"Because of their fierce courage America is safer. Two terror regimes are gone forever and more than 50 million souls now live in freedom," he said.
Earlier Monday, Bush's Democratic rival, John Kerry, paid a solemn visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial across the river from Arlington Cemetery. Kerry walked with the family of William Bronson of Gardner, Mass., who died in 1976 from a seizure related to a head wound suffered in 1968 during combat in Vietnam.
Kerry, a Vietnam veteran, came home from the war with three Purple Hearts and Silver and Bronze stars, and soon became a leader of the anti-war movement.
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