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That Star Spangled Banner still waves

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- This week started on a high note as members of the U.S. military, to include the 45th Space Wing, helped provide support for an awesome launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis on Monday. And now, it will end on a high note, with Armed Forces Day Saturday. Former Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy and Air Force Days on Aug. 31, 1949 to celebrate the unification of the Armed Forces under one department, the Department of Defense.
The theme for that first Armed Forces Day was "Teamed for Defense."

Sixty years later the services are still "Teamed for Defense" and are conducting combat, anti-terrorism, peacekeeping and humanitarian support operations all across the globe. Not only are we united under the same government agency, but we are now integrated in joint operations crucial to forwarding the flag of freedom and the principles of liberty and democracy. Together, we are "all in" fighting to free the oppressed and to vanquish their oppressors.

The tradition of Armed Forces Day continues tomorrow as we recognize the contributions of the military and show support for you and the countless men and women deployed around the world in combat zones preserving our safety and security every day.

Our forces know that freedom is not free. They know freedom is not a birthright and that it constantly needs to be fought for and secured. It should never be taken for granted. Our forces are out there standing a watch for all Americans and for all those who support freedom. And they are winning the fight.

It is the willingness of our servicemembers - your willingness - to take an oath and to stand up for what America is all about - freedom. From rocket and shuttle launch support, to security and rescue operations, we do a little bit of it all here at Patrick. And I feel honored and privileged to stand beside each and every one of you.

When friend and foe alike see our flag, and see our brave men and women from all services fighting terrorism in all its forms, let alone delivering much needed food and medical supplies to those who need it most, they know, as we do, the answer to Francis Scott Key's question at the end of our national anthem: Yes, indeed, the Star Spangled Banner does still wave over the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And it does so because of you and the sacrifices you all have volunteered to make for our great nation. Happy Armed Forces Day; celebrate it safely!

Thanks again for all you do.