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June 3, 2002

I send greetings to those gathered aboard the USS Missouri as you honor the veterans of World War II in the Pacific and commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Midway.

During the first months of World War II, American forces in the Pacific suffered devastating losses. The December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor and the Hawaiian island of Oahu, was followed by the enemy capture of Guam, the loss of Wake Island and the fall of Bataan and Corregidor. Yet even in those darkest hours of 1941 and 1942, America's Armed Forces refused to yield. Within six months, our Nation's resolve was demonstrated by Colonel Doolittle's Raiders, the halting of Japan's expansion at the Battle of the Coral Sea, and the victory at the Midway atoll in the North Pacific.

As we face the challenges of a new era, we look to America's veterans for their example of courage and sacrifice in defending freedom. The men and women who fought for America during World War II not only protected our Nation, but helped to shape its character. Their bravery in battle and as prisoners of war continue to inspire us as we engage in a war against terrorism.

I join Americans across the country in expressing appreciation for your service and patriotism. Best wishes for a memorable observance.

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