By Gen. Raymond Odierno, chief of staff, Army - 05/21/13 11:04 PM EDT
Throughout our history, the American soldier has remained the steadfast defender of our freedom. From the earliest days of the Revolution up to the most recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, soldiers have always answered the call of duty. These generations of soldiers are forever linked by their competence, character and commitment to this great nation.
On this Memorial Day, we take time to remember that there are nearly 80,000 soldiers deployed around the world, including almost 60,000 in Afghanistan.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, 4,843 soldiers have given their lives. We pause to remember the many generations of soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice. We owe each of them an enormous debt of gratitude.
Over 35,000 soldiers have been wounded during the 12 twelve years, many of them severely. These warriors will live with the effects of these wounds, both physically and mentally, for many years to come. These “soldiers for life” have much to contribute to our society. We honor their sacrifice by committing ourselves to their care and ensuring they have support in our communities long after these wars begin to fade into our nation’s memories.
We also take time to thank our Army families. Their strength and resiliency continue to serve as an inspiration to us all. They are remarkable spouses and children who have sacrificed in their own ways and they are the core from which our Army foundation is built.
The men and women of our Army, past and present, reflect the greatness and diversity of our nation. They are some of our bravest and most courageous citizens. They demonstrate valor in the face of personal danger and achieve greatness while overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Yet through it all, they remain humble about their accomplishments.
So on this Memorial Day, as we gather together across this great country, let us pause and remember the service and sacrifice of so many.
The strength of our nation is our Army;
The strength of our Army is our soldiers;
The strength of our soldiers is our families;
This is what makes us Army Strong!