American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 26, 2013 - As part of his first Memorial Day observance in office, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel released a video message today to thank those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and commend the military members who will carry on their legacy.
"Memorial Day is a uniquely American day," Hagel said. "It is the one day of the year we set aside completely to remember, to honor and thank those who give so much and have given so much for this country."
An Army veteran who volunteered to go to Vietnam in 1968, Hagel acknowledged that, 11 years into war these are not easy times to be part of the armed forces.
"Memorials are not built to honor war," Hagel said. "They are built to remember great causes and great actions and the people who helped shaped the world for the better."
The secretary also thanked military members and their families for their sacrifices in service to the nation.
"It's a great honor, it's a privilege, to be part of your team," Hagel said. "Our country will never forget those who fell in battle and those who have yet to return home."
In a montage of military members and veterans from across eras, Hagel said nothing makes him prouder than his association with the military and its veterans.
"Their dedication and selfless service resonates deeply across the country and their legacy is carried forward proudly by those who wear our nation's uniform today," he said.