Ceremony Commemorates Sacrifices of Persian Gulf War

 By Jim Garamone
 American Forces Press Service

 ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 26, 2006  - In a biting cold wind, families and dignitaries gathered at Arlington National Cemetery here today to remember American servicemembers who gave their lives in operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Provide Comfort.

Officials conducted the ceremony at section 60 of the cemetery, where most of those killed in the Persian Gulf War are buried. The Persian Gulf War ended with the liberation of Kuwait on Feb. 28, 1991.

Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, remembered the hundreds of U.S. servicemembers killed in the conflict. He said American servicemembers remember those who went before them, and that the U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines serving in Southwest Asia today "pay respect to their memory by serving as well as we possibly can and serving in missions like we are currently on that bring freedom to literally millions of people."

Many family members of those killed in the Gulf War attended the remembrance ceremony, which was sponsored by the White House Commission on Remembrance and the state of Kuwait. Pace said the families also sacrificed much, and he dwelt on that sacrifice.

"It is the incredible strength of our families and your sacrifice for this country that make so much of a difference in this world," he told them. "Each of you is missing someone very important. You have missed them for 15 years, and you will continue to miss them. It is your sacrifice and your love and your strength that provides the freedom we enjoy today."

Pace said the families of American servicemembers currently serving in Southwest Asia carry on their example. "They are praying for their loved ones to come home, and they are standing fast and strong as their loved ones serve overseas," he said.

President Bush said in a letter to the families that they carry "a burden of grief that time may lighten, but never lift."

The ceremony also paid tribute to the coalition nations who lost servicemembers in Kuwait's liberation: Egypt, France, Italy, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.

Members of local Junior ROTC detachments placed white roses of remembrance on the graves of those killed in the war, and Pace and Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel placed a wreath at the remembrance panel.

Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al Jaber Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States, thanked the families for their sacrifices for his country, and thanked the United States for liberating his land from Saddam Hussein.

"The soldiers of Desert Storm will always be remembered as the heroes who opened a door for a new Middle East," the ambassador said. "The spirit of those we lost did not depart us. It is their spirit that gave the meaning to the friendship between Kuwait and America. It is their spirit that helped the two counties overcome many of the challenges they faced in making our region more safe and more prosperous. And it is their spirit that will sustain our efforts to utilize our friendship to address the challenges of the day."

The ambassador said seeing Saddam Hussein on trial will finally put forth to the world the "immeasurable suffering" he inflicted on Kuwait and on his own people. "This suffering was finally lifted when you - our American friends - came to our rescue in 1991 and also Iraq's rescue in 2003. The sacrifices of your sons and daughters were at the heart of those historic achievements."