'Achievement of Courage'; Bush Honors Troops, Reads Letters of Fallen

Article excerpt

Byline: Jon Ward, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

President Bush yesterday urged Americans to remember the sacrifices of U.S. servicemen and women who died in uniform and to honor the memories of those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"On this day, especially, our nation is grateful to the brave and fallen defenders of freedom," Mr. Bush said during a Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. "Today, we recall that liberty is always the achievement of courage."

Inside the cemetery's 83-year-old Memorial Amphitheater, near the Tomb of the Unknowns, Mr. Bush spoke to an audience of more than 5,000 that included Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld; the Joint Chiefs of Staff, including its chairman, Gen. Richard B. Myers; military veterans and the families of some of the soldiers who died in Iraq.

"We remember all who have died, all who are still missing and all who mourn," Mr. Bush said after placing a wreath on the tomb.The president added a bit of levity to the solemn proceedings when he read from a letter written by Army Staff Sgt. Lincoln Hollinsaid, 27, of Malden, Ill. Staff Sgt. Hollinsaid, writing from the Middle East, told his family that he enjoyed getting mail. "'I wish my truck and boat knew how to write. I sure do miss 'em,'" Mr. Bush said, quoting Staff Sgt. Hollinsaid, who was killed April 7.

The president also read from a letter that Army Capt. James Adamouski, 29, wrote to his bride of seven months, Meighan, 29.

"'I do my job 110 percent and don't get distracted or discouraged when I'm out flying on missions,'" Mr. Bush read. "'However, when I have some down time and get to really thinking, I realize that for all the good things we're doing here, I just plain miss you.'"

The Springfield, Va., soldier died in a helicopter crash on April 2.

Among those mourning at Arlington National Cemetery was Dorothy Halvorsen, 70, of Bennington, Vt. Her son, Chief Warrant Officer Erik Halvorsen, 40, was killed in the same Black Hawk crash that claimed Capt. Adamouski.

Mrs. Halvorsen came to Washington with her daughter Brenda, 39, to meet with other families grieving the loss of servicemen and women.

"Just knowing that a lot of people are going through the same thing makes you feel ... that you're not alone," said Mrs. Halvorsen. It was her first visit to Washington for Memorial Day.

Also at Arlington were Courtney Hug, 12, of Chicago, and Carolyn Horton, 11, of Manassas, who both lost their fathers in military service.

Courtney's father, Lt. Christian Hug, died 10 years ago in Maryland. Most of Courtney's friends "don't really know" the true meaning of Memorial Day, she said. …