Panetta Praises Troops on Armed Forces Day
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
WASHINGTON, May 19, 2012 - Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta today thanked troops and their families for their service in an Armed Forces Day message, in which he also noted the importance of the upcoming NATO Summit in Chicago.
"Let me take this opportunity to wish all our troops and their families the very best on this Armed Forces Day," Panetta said in the message. "I hope you know that all Americans join me in gratitude for everything you do to keep us safe.
Panetta said the efforts of troops are noted and appreciated.
"Wherever and however you serve, you are an inspiration to me and to millions of your fellow Americans," he said.
President Harry S. Truman led the effort to establish a single holiday for citizens to come together and thank our military members for their service in support of the nation. On Aug. 31, 1949, Defense Secretary Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days. The single day celebration stemmed from the unification of the armed forces under the Department of Defense.
The secretary said former President Truman was "right to recognize this day," and Panetta quoted the former president, saying "'it's not enough to yearn for peace. We must work, and if necessary, fight for it.'"
The service and sacrifices of men and women in uniform allow Americans to lead peaceful lives, he said.
"You fight for peace so that others don't need to," he said. "You work for peace, at home and abroad, so that others may know a better life. Your families share in that labor and in that sacrifice, so that other families need not endure the pains of separation and of strife. There is, perhaps, no more admirable calling."
Panetta pointed to the upcoming NATO Summit as an opportunity for heads of state to show the same commitment to reaching the international community's goals in Afghanistan.
"In keeping with that same spirit of service and leadership, heads of state from across the world are joining together at the NATO Summit in Chicago to affirm our shared commitment to work and to fight to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan," he said.
"Our goal is clear – to ensure that Afghanistan will never again serve as a launching pad for terrorist attacks against our homeland," Panetta said. "To do that, we have to build an Afghanistan that can secure and govern itself."