IN RADIO address, Bush asks nation to value troops' sacrifice

Saturday, May 26th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush on Saturday asked Americans to devote the Memorial Day holiday to remembering ``the heroism, the hardship, the national gain and personal loss'' of war.

In his weekly radio address, taped before he went to Camp David for the weekend, Bush said he personally would honor Memorial Day by hosting a White House breakfast on Monday for military veterans ``who knew and remember the people who never came back from our nation's wars.''

Presidents, he said, have made the decisions about those wars in the White House, but the success _ or failure _ of those decisions rested on the shoulders of the men and women who fought them.

``America has been given so much, but of all our assets, resources and strengths, none have counted for more than the courage of young soldiers in the face of battle,'' Bush said. ``Victory has always come down to the people flying the planes, manning the ships, carrying the gun and the pack. ... They have defended us. They have died for us. They have never disappointed us.''

The president, who served in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War, referred fleetingly to the military service of his father, former President George Bush, a Navy aviator during World War II.

``Most of us know war veterans; I had the privilege of being raised by one,'' Bush said. ``Usually, they are reticent about their experiences. It is often difficult for them to think back on those names and faces, on the ones who never lived to be called veterans.''

Americans are indebted to veterans for the freedoms they enjoy in their daily lives, Bush said, and should always ``appreciate the price that was paid'' for that freedom.

``On Memorial Day, we accept our obligation to do just that,'' Bush said. ``We will remember the heroism, the hardship, the national gain and personal loss our wars have brought.''

After Monday's breakfast, Bush plans to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery before flying to Mesa, Ariz., for a second Memorial Day ceremony honoring veterans.