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Prepared Remarks of Governor Sonny PerdueYellow Ribbon Day

Friday, April 4, 2003  Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774

State Capitol
Atlanta, Georgia
Friday, April 4, 2003
(NOTE: The Governor Often Deviates From Prepared Remarks)

Atlanta - This morning as we gather on the grounds of our State's Capitol, half a world away, thousands upon thousands of young Americans are fighting in a foreign land. They are on strange and distant soil to spread the blessings of freedom to a whole country... and to protect those same blessings here in America.

Many of those Americans are also Georgians. When you combine the men and women deployed from our military installations with activated reservists and members of the National Guard, Georgia is contributing more personnel to the theatre than any other State in our Union.

Shortly before they left Fort Stewart to assume their position as the tip of the spear now aimed at Baghdad and Saddam Hussein's crumbling regime, I had the opportunity to spend some time with the brave soldiers of the Third Infantry Division. I shared with them a few simple words:

Some of them were Georgians by birth. Some of them were Georgians by choice. And some of them were Georgians by order of Uncle Sam.

But all of them were Georgians - members of our Georgia family. And I promised those soldiers that while they were off securing the blessings of liberty and freedom for ourselves and for an oppressed people, that we - those left on the home front - would keep them in our hearts and prayers and look after their families.

These brave men and women of our Armed Forces are enduring unimaginable hardships, risking their lives daily and making great sacrifices so that we can live in a better world.

Many people don't know that our National Anthem - the Star-Spangled Banner - has four verses. We teach our children the first verse because it is all we ever sing. But I believe in times like these, the final verse is the most powerful. If you'll permit me to read the words Francis Scott Key penned almost 200 years ago:

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand

Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!

Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

We know that freedom isn't free. One need only to visit the now serene plateau above Omaha Beach where row after row of pristine marble crosses and Stars of David stand as eternal monuments to the cost of liberty...or the quiet farmland of Andersonville, Georgia...or the rolling hills of Arlington, just across the Potomac from our Nation's Capitol...or from almost any cemetery or courthouse square in our blessed land.

But we know that the very God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time. And sometimes we're called upon to defend both life and liberty - God's blessings to Americans, and indeed, to all of His creation.

In the current fight, some have already made the ultimate sacrifice a soldier, a sailor, an airman, or a Marine can make for his or her country.

We are here today to honor their sacrifices.

We are here today to show our love and support for all of our troops and for their families.

The Yellow Ribbon symbolizes the hopes and prayers of those left behind for the safe return of our troops in harm's way.

It represents the steadfast devotion and unwavering support of those on the home front for our loved ones who are fighting for us in freedom's cause.

Today, we will tie yellow ribbons around the trees on the Capitol grounds and we will ask all Georgians to join us by displaying and wearing yellow ribbons...

I want to thank Ms. Laura Sutton and Ms. Fleming Goss of Powder Springs for donating and designing these yellow ribbons. Thank you both.

Now it my pleasure to introduce Major General Daniel Mongeon, United States Army. General Mongeon is the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics at Fort McPherson. General, thank you for joining us.

[Remarks of General Mongeon]

Thank you, General.

I have a proclamation I will sign, proclaiming today, April 4, 2003 to be Yellow Ribbon Day in Georgia ....

We are honored today by the presence of Kevin Addison and Patricia Webb, the parents of Army Specialist Jamal Addison, one of our brave young men who gave his life so that others might be free.

We are also honored today to be joined by Jorge Rincon and members of the Rincon family. Jorge is the father of PFC Diego Fernando Rincon, who also gave us life so that others might be free.

This morning, we also remember our prisoners of war. We are honored that Ronald and Kaye Young, parents of Ronald D. Young, Jr., now a POW in Iraq, are here with us.

I ask you all to join me in a moment of silence in honor of Jamal Addison, Diego Rincon, Ron Young, Jr., and all of the other brave Americans who are defending our country and our liberties.

[Moment of Silence]

Thank you.