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Bush honors veterans, WTC heroes and victims

Veterans Day on 11th marks two months since terror strikes

Bush speaks Sunday at Veterans Day event in New York;  Mayor Rudy Giuliani listens.
Bush speaks Sunday at Veterans Day event in New York; Mayor Rudy Giuliani listens.  

(CNN) -- Sunday became a dual day of remembrance in the United States as Veterans Day dovetailed with the two-month anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks that killed thousands in New York and at the Pentagon.

President Bush began the day by speaking at a Veterans Day prayer breakfast in New York.

"Americans have seen the terrible harm that an enemy can inflict, and it has left us deeply grateful for the men and women who rise strongly in the defense of our nation," Bush said. "When the call comes to defend our country, our military is ready, and it's making us proud."

The president was joined by New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Mayor-elect Michael Bloomberg, and Gov. George Pataki.

President Bush speaks of America's resolve in a Veterans Day speech in New York (November 11)

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After morning gave way to a crisp, sunny afternoon, Bush attended a somber, interfaith ceremony at the site of the World Trade Center, where smoke still rises from the rubble. He did not make remarks at that ceremony, which included a reading of the names of the 86 countries and regions that lost citizens in the attack, and the presentation of each country's flag.

Vice President Dick Cheney, in a rare post-September 11 public appearance, took part in a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, where he laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

"The men and women who serve today can know that they have the complete confidence of the commander-in-chief, and the respect of the entire nation," Cheney said. "They know, too, that they follow a long and unbroken line of brave Americans who came to the defense of freedom."

The Tomb of the Unknowns holds the remains of unidentified U.S. dead from World War I, World War II and the Korean War.

Veterans Day has its origins in World War I, which ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. The holiday, originally known as Armistice Day, was created by a Congressional resolution in 1926 and declared a national holiday in 1938.

On November 11, 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming November 11 as Veterans Day, to honor all of the men and women who served the United States in combat.

The Veterans Administration said that as of May of this year, 42,348,460 Americans have served in combat and 894,468 have died in service. There are 19,421,266 living war veterans.


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