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A bugler plays taps on Memorial Day at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019.
A bugler plays taps on Memorial Day at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
A bugler plays taps on Memorial Day at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019.
A bugler plays taps on Memorial Day at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
World War II veteran Peter Naylor, second from left, and keynote speaker Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, prepare to place a wreath during a Memorial Day ceremony at the National World War II Memorial in Washington , May 27, 2019.
World War II veteran Peter Naylor, second from left, and keynote speaker Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, prepare to place a wreath during a Memorial Day ceremony at the National World War II Memorial in Washington , May 27, 2019. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
National Park Service Acting Superintendent Jeffrey Reinbold and World War II veteran Carmel Whetzel place a wreath during a Memorial Day ceremony at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, May 27, 2019.
National Park Service Acting Superintendent Jeffrey Reinbold and World War II veteran Carmel Whetzel place a wreath during a Memorial Day ceremony at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, May 27, 2019. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Army Air Force veteran Lou Perrone, who served as a ball turret gunner in a B-17 Flying Fortress during World War II, prepares to place a wreath at the National World War II Memorial in Washington on Memorial Day, May 27, 2019. With him is the chairman of the Friends of the National World War II Memorial, Josiah Bunting III.
Army Air Force veteran Lou Perrone, who served as a ball turret gunner in a B-17 Flying Fortress during World War II, prepares to place a wreath at the National World War II Memorial in Washington on Memorial Day, May 27, 2019. With him is the chairman of the Friends of the National World War II Memorial, Josiah Bunting III. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Memorial Day at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019.
Memorial Day at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Army veteran Herman Zietchik, center, who stormed Utah Beach with the 4th Infantry Division on D-Day 75 years ago, prepares to place a wreath at the National World War II Memorial in Washington on Memorial Day, May 27, 2019.
Army veteran Herman Zietchik, center, who stormed Utah Beach with the 4th Infantry Division on D-Day 75 years ago, prepares to place a wreath at the National World War II Memorial in Washington on Memorial Day, May 27, 2019. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
World War II veterans applaud as Dean Martin's daughter, Deana, sings on Memorial Day at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019.
World War II veterans applaud as Dean Martin's daughter, Deana, sings on Memorial Day at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, and World War II veteran Andrew Abugelis listen as Dean Martin's daughter, Deana, sings on Memorial Day at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019.
Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, and World War II veteran Andrew Abugelis listen as Dean Martin's daughter, Deana, sings on Memorial Day at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Visitors listen to a speaker on Memorial Day at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019.
Visitors listen to a speaker on Memorial Day at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, and World War II veteran Andrew Abugelis listen to a speaker on Memorial Day at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019.
Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, and World War II veteran Andrew Abugelis listen to a speaker on Memorial Day at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
A duck wanders into the ceremony, to the amusement of Friends of the National World War II Memorial Chairman Josiah Bunting III, on Memorial Day in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019.
A duck wanders into the ceremony, to the amusement of Friends of the National World War II Memorial Chairman Josiah Bunting III, on Memorial Day in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
A tribute on Memorial Day at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019.
A tribute on Memorial Day at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Memorial Day at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019.
Memorial Day at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
A veteran takes a photo of children holding placards with photos of the fallen on Memorial Day at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019.
A veteran takes a photo of children holding placards with photos of the fallen on Memorial Day at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Children hold placards with photos of the fallen on Memorial Day at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019.
Children hold placards with photos of the fallen on Memorial Day at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
The U.S. Army Brass Quintet plays on Memorial Day at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019.
The U.S. Army Brass Quintet plays on Memorial Day at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, speaks at a Memorial Day ceremony at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, May 27, 2019. In the early 1990s, she introduced the bill in Congress that resulted in the memorial's construction. Kaptur said those who died in World War II served "to prove to the world that liberty belongs to everyone."
Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, speaks at a Memorial Day ceremony at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, May 27, 2019. In the early 1990s, she introduced the bill in Congress that resulted in the memorial's construction. Kaptur said those who died in World War II served "to prove to the world that liberty belongs to everyone." (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
The Armed Forces Color Guard of the Military District of Washington, on Memorial Day at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019.
The Armed Forces Color Guard of the Military District of Washington, on Memorial Day at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., May 27, 2019. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)

WASHINGTON — The World War II veterans and others who visited the National World War II Memorial Monday morning for the traditional Memorial Day ceremony were reminded by one of the key figures in the memorial's creation that the "overwhelming genius and valor" of what has become known as the Greatest Generation "achieved a profound victory of liberty over tyranny for our modern world."

"Since its dedication in 2004, over 65 million visitors have journeyed here to honor and bear witness to their vast courage," said Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio. "This outpouring of affection is a deserved tribute. Yes, those American men and women we honor here set forth across the world's oceans or served on our homefront in total war mobilization to defend liberty and its inherent truths that all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, in the face of profound evil. They prevailed, for us and for generations to come."

Kaptur, who sponsored the legislation in the 1990s that led to the memorial's opening 15 years ago, noted that "since America's founding, over 1,300,000 Americans have sacrificed their lives in service to our nation. Another 1,500,000 wounded have given to us. These are overwhelming figures to contemplate. We bow low before them. This Memorial Day, and every Memorial Day, honors them."

Kaptur spoke of the distinction between freedom and liberty, saying that the two "hold distinctly different meanings. Freedom is the condition of being free, not under the control of another. But liberty is the deeper condition of having been free from a repression. A dictatorial regime, or starvation, or poverty, or disease, or forced evacuation, or war. Those who have been liberated have overcome some form of human debasement or degradation.

"America's very being was created to liberate people. Today most of our citizenry has been born into freedom. Historically we are the undeserving, intergenerational benefactors of heroic selflessness. Surely, history will ask us and each succeeding generation, 'what have we done for liberty, to measure up to the nobility of those who gave us our freedom?'"

Kaptur said those who fought in World War II "did it to prove to the world that liberty belongs to everyone."

news@stripes.com

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