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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, November 12, 2007

'Your loved ones served a cause that is good and just and noble'

 •  Hawaii pays tribute to heroes on Veterans Day

By Deb Riechmann
Associated Press

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

An honor guard stood in formation yesterday beside the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in northern Virginia.

MANUEL BALCE CENETA | Associated Press

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WACO, Texas Marking his fifth Veterans Day since the invasion of Iraq, President Bush honored U.S. troops past and present at a ceremony yesterday for four Texans who died there.

The White House had said Bush was going to also use his Veterans Day speech to scold Congress for not sending him a veterans spending bill. But Bush finished without any reference to the bill or Congress.

"In their sorrow, these families need to know and families all across our nation of the fallen need to know that your loved ones served a cause that is good and just and noble," Bush said. "And as their commander in chief, I make you this promise: Their sacrifice will not be in vain."

Bush, who is scheduled to return to the White House today, was in Texas for the holiday, following a two-day meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at his ranch in Crawford.

He went to American Legion Post 121, which was honoring four Texas men who were among the more than 3,860 members of the U.S. military who have died in Iraq since 2003.

They were Army Spc. Javier Antonio Villanueva, Army Spc. Jeffrey Paul Shaffer, Marine Lance Cpl. Johnny Ray Strong and Marine Gunnery Sgt. John David Fry.

Post Commander Clayton Hueske said he was proud to have Bush in attendance at the event, which ended with the audience joining a soloist in singing "God Bless America."

"These men and women saw the future of the terrorists' intent for our country and they said with clear voices, 'Not on my watch,' " Bush said of the troops.

"America is blessed to have such brave defenders. They are tomorrow's veterans and they are bringing pride to our country. Their service is noble and it is necessary," he said. "The enemies who attacked us six years ago want to strike our country again, and next time they hope to kill Americans on a scale that will make 9/11 pale by comparison."

Bush has spent four of the past six Veterans Days at Arlington National Cemetery. This year, Vice President Dick Cheney went to Arlington to pay tribute to Iraq veterans.

Cheney said soldiers from World War I to "the current fight against terrorism" have served their country valiantly and "kept us free at the land we call home."

"Free to live as we see fit, free to work, worship, speak our minds, to choose our own leaders," Cheney said.

"May the rest of us never take them for granted."