NYS Seal For Immediate Release:
May 30, 2002


THURSDAY, MAY 30, 2002

Speaker Silver
Governor Pataki. Senator Bruno. Colleagues. Distinguished Guests.

To our honored and beloved World War Two Veterans and to their families let me say - on behalf of the New York State Assembly - that your presence here today brings great honor to this place, and that we are overjoyed that you are witness to this lasting expression of our gratitude; this beautiful and enduring reminder of your historic valor and victory, and that of your deceased brothers and sisters.

With great pride, I commend my friend and colleague, Assemblyman Jack McEneny for his leadership in the Assembly's sponsorship of the first legislation to create this Memorial.

Likewise, I commend our Veteran's Committee Chairman, Assemblyman Ron Tocci, with whose leadership the legislation was brought to the floor and first passed by your State Assembly.

Let me also express my gratitude to the Governor and to our colleagues in the Senate for joining in support of establishing this fitting monument.

The tribute - I know we all agree - was long overdue and yet, so critically important at this point in our history.

Let it stand forever as a reminder that liberty is not created or guaranteed by noble words inscribed on parchment, but rather that liberty survives because of courage and vigilance;

A sense of duty and an abhorrence for surrender;

A deep and abiding reverence for freedom and equality;

And ultimately, an unwavering love of country;

The character that made yours "The Greatest Generation;"

The values that we must embrace in our fight against those who use terror to threaten our liberty today.

At the same time, I pray that there will never be another generation of young Americans who will know your experience of Iwo Jima, Bataan, Normandy Beach, or the Ardennes.

Although my knowledge of the Second World War pales in comparison to yours, I know from history the brutality of these battles, and that America's fighting men and women should never have to endure what you have endured.

Time may reshape our understanding of the Second World War.

Truth may shed light on its dark and yet untold secrets.

But constant through all time is the memory that when a suffering and trembling world cried out for saving, a young and developing America turned to its best hope and greatest resource: its young men and women; 1.7 million from the State of New York.

Together they became the most gallant and powerful fighting force this Earth has ever seen and did nothing less than preserve our freedom, and finally save the world.

More than two hundred thousand American soldiers whispered their final goodbyes on battlefields far from their loved ones and far from their native soil, and hundreds of thousands more returned home wounded, scarred and changed forever.

This Nation - all of us - owe you and all of our World War Two Veterans a debt that we can never hope to repay.

If there is any consolation it is this:

Wherever American blood was spilled, there were planted the seeds of freedom and hope.

There a bond was sealed; a promise made that is still kept to this day:

That America stands for peace, liberty and justice around the world.

And that we stand by men and women everywhere who will join us in pursuit of these goals.

This is the legacy of the valiant veterans of World War Two.

We honor you and we take pride in your example, and with this Memorial we strive to say: "Thank you for the freedom we enjoy today."

May G-d bless you and your families forever.

New York State Assembly
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