US President Bush, delivering a Memorial Day message surrounded by the
graves of thousands of military dead, said Monday that the United States must
continue fighting the war on terror in the name of those have already given
their life in the cause.
"The best way to pay respect is to value
why a sacrifice was made," Bush said, quoting from a letter that Lt. Mark Dooley
wrote to his parents before being killed last September in the Iraqi city of
Iraq war veterans Air National Guard Master
Sgt. Michael Gormley, right, of the West Roxbury neighborhood of Boston,
holds his daughter Kate, 3, while standing next to and his brother, US
Army Lt. Col. Bill Gormley, during a Memorial Day service in the Gardens
at Gethsemane cemetery in Boston, Monday, May 29, 2006. [AP
Noting that some 270 fighting men and women of the nearly 2,500 who have
fallen since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, are buried at Arlington
National Cemetery, Bush said, "We have seen the costs in the war on terror that
we fight today."
"I am in awe of the men and women who sacrifice for the freedom of the United
States of America," the president declared, drawing a long standing ovation from
the troops, families of the fallen and others gathered at the cemetery's
5,000-seat white marble amphitheater.
"Here in the presence of veterans they fought with and loved ones whose
pictures they carried, the fallen give silent witness to the price of liberty
and our nation honors them this day and every day," he said.
The nation can best honor the dead by "defeating the terrorists. ... and by
laying the foundation for a generation of peace," Bush said.
The US president spoke after laying a wreath at the Tomb of the
Unknowns. He ventured across the Potomac River on a sun-splashed Memorial Day
just a short time after signing into law a bill that restricts protests at
At the White House, Bush signed the Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act,"
passed by Congress largely in response to the activities of a Kansas church
group that has staged protests at military funerals around the country, claiming
the deaths symbolized God's anger at U.S. tolerance of homosexuals.
The new law bars protests within 300 feet of the entrance of a national
cemetery and within 150 feet of a road into the cemetery. This restriction
applies an hour before until an hour after a funeral. Those violating the act
would face up to a $100,000 fine and up to a year in prison.
US President George W.
Bush delivers Memorial Day remarks at the Arlington National Cemetary
Ampitheater in Arlington, Virginia. Bush again vowed to complete US
military missions around the world as the United States honoured its war
dead with the American toll in Iraq closing on 2,500.
Monday's observance at Arlington National Cemetery was not a funeral, so
demonstrators were free to speak their minds at the site. Bush's motorcade
passed several on the way in, including a small group that held signs saying,
"Thank God for dead soldiers" and "God hates fags."
Approximately 10 people from the Washington, DC, chapter of FreeRepublic.com,
a self-styled grass roots conservative group, stood across the road with signs
supporting US troops. A large sign held by several people said, "God bless our
troops, defenders of freedom, American heroes."
The FreeRepublic.com group was trying to counter demonstrations by the
Kansas-based group, led by the Rev. Fred Phelps. He previously had organized
protests against those who died of AIDS and gay murder victim Matthew Shepard.
In an interview when the House passed the bill that Bush signed Monday,
Phelps accused Congress of "blatantly violating" his First Amendment rights. He
said that if it became law, he would continue to demonstrate but would abide by
the law's restrictions.
Bush signed a second bill Monday that allows combat troops to deposit
tax-free pay into individual retirement accounts. Supporters of the legislation
argued that rules governing these accounts were punishing soldiers in
Afghanistan and Iraq who earn only tax-free combat pay.