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TRANSCRIPT: Ward Makes Remarks at American Cemetery in Tunisia, Memorial Day
General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), delivered a Memorial Day speech at the North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial in Carthage, Tunisia, May 31, 2010. <br /> <br />See related articles: <br /><a
General William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), delivered a Memorial Day speech at the North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial in Carthage, Tunisia, May 31, 2010.

See related articles:
U.S. AFRICOM Marks Memorial Day at North Africa American Cemetery
U.S. Military Cemetery in Carthage, Tunisia Prepares for Memorial Day

Ward's remarks are provided below:

GENERAL WILLIAM E. WARD: Thanks to you, Ambassador Gray and your beautiful bride for hosting us here. We are not just gathered here to hear Kip Ward speak, rather to honor those who gave so much to our nation. In order not to forget someone from this fantastic assembly of people here today, I will use a custom I have learned in my travels around the continent and say all protocol observed. But, I will make it a point to especially thank the Tunisian honor guard, the color guard and our ensemble.

Conducted on the last Monday of May across the United States and at all our battlefield memorials overseas, Memorial Day an important day of remembrance for all Americans, a day when we pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

This memorial is the final resting place of some our nation's greatest heroes. 2,841 service members are laid to rest here â? and there are the names of the 3,724 who are missing inscribed. We are gathered here today to remember them and continue their legacy.

Those laid to rest here answered the call to duty and fought in the air, on land, and at sea. They deployed to places they had only read about, or never heard of at all, to protect American lives and promote freedom around the globe.

The story of the Tunisia Campaign is an important one, a story of American Soldiers fighting valiantly and overcoming tremendous diversity and adversity, to ultimately make a difference in the course of World War II. After initial defeat at Kasserine Pass, it was here in Tunisia that the U.S. II Corps regrouped under General George Patton, won the battle of El Guettar, and held the southern British flank as the remaining Axis forces on the continent were defeated. This set the stage for the Allied advance across the Mediterranean that helped lead to ultimate victory.

Now we stand and remember all of them on this day and talk about their deeds. Those of us who wear the cloth of our nation today, do our best in all of our endeavors so that their accomplishments are not lost. As I speak, brave men and women are deployed around the world, doing what is asked of them to protect life at home and to support those who seek freedom. Our prayers are with them all.

Throughout our history, America's sons and daughters have been entrusted to us with the understanding that this most precious resource be prudently used and protected. The younger generations seem always to bear the greatest load, but knowing that they are serving something greater than themselves makes them persevere, as those buried here.

I would like to share some words from General Omar Bradley:

"This is as true in everyday life as it is in battle: we are given one life and the decision is ours whether to wait for circumstances to make up our mind, or whether to act... and in acting, to live."

Those whom we honor today certainly embodied this sentiment, the results of their sacrifice live on in us and in our way of life. They paved the way of life we enjoy in America, Africa and the world Freedom comes at a high cost, which was paid with the lives of these brave Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines.

I offer a heartfelt thank you to the government of Tunisia for your continued friendship and support to this home for our fallen. We greatly appreciate your remembrance of these crucial campaigns that occurred across North Africa during World War II. We appreciate all you have done to secure and safeguard this noble location.

To those from the American Battlefield Monuments Commission, thank you. This is my third visit here and each time has been special and memorable. What you do answers a higher calling and demonstrates your dedication to preserving the memories of these fallen heroes.

I know that I speak for all of here when I say that we will respect, we will remember and we will always honor the supreme sacrifice of the many who have perished so that we may be free.

Thank you for honoring the noble service of those remembered today by your presence.