INCLUDES VIDEO: Cheneys speech
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CHICKAMAUGA -- Before a crowd of more than 5,000, Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday honored the lives of men who helped forge America by fighting valiantly in the Battle of Chickamauga.
It was here upon these fields in Chickamauga that thousands of men covered themselves in glory, Cheney said, describing soldiers who wore both blue and gray.
I join you as a fellow citizen today honoring the bravery and courage of the men who fought on these fields, whose legacy continues to live in each of us, Cheney said.
Cheney arrived at the reenactment location just before noon with an entourage of law enforcement, both state and local.
Also accompanying Cheney was a delegation from Washing-ton that included Georgia Senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss, as well as U.S. Congressmen Nathan Deal of Georgia and Zack Wamp of Tennessee.
As a part of the battle event, the great-grandfather to Cheney, Samuel Fletcher Cheney, was recognized for the role he played in the battle while fighting in the Unions Army of the Cumberland under Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans.
Samuel Cheney was a 34-year-old lieutenant who served in the 21st Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the two-day battle Sept. 19-20, 1863.
I know his service to his country meant as much to him as it did to those who joined him on these fields, Cheney said.
The Union forces were pushed back into Chattanooga from Chickamauga by Confederate divisions led by Confederate leaders such as Nathan Bedford Forest and James Longstreet. Heavy fighting at Chickamauga resulted in one of the bloodiest battles fought in the four-year conflict.
There were more than 34,000 causalities in the Chickamauga battle 16,170 federal and 18,546 confederate.
I know that many of you here today also had ancestors that fought on these fields before us, Cheney said. They were an example for us all of moral valor, bravery, and devotion that helped forge out the greatest nation on the face of the earth. Their deeds were, and continue to be, well known in both the North and the South.
VIDEO: Cheneys speech
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State Sen. Jeff Mullis of Chickamauga proceeded the vice presidents remarks with a proclamation sent by Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue declaring Sept. 19 as Medal of Honor Day recognizing those who have received the honor for military service for the country.
Mullis presented recognition to two Georgia recipients of the honor, Charles Coolidge and William Knight.
Mullis said of the bravery demonstrated by the men who fought on the fields of Chickamauga, These men fought for a cause they truly believed in, protecting the rights and freedom of the people of this great country.
State Rep. Jay Neal of Chickamauga was also on hand with other local dignitaries.
Neal said of the vice presidents visit to Chickamauga, Historic tourism has long been huge for our area. This is simply not something that can be duplicated by other towns or areas in our state and country. This is our history and what a wonderful history it is. With the vice presidents visit, others will see it for the value it represents and will come here to experience the rich historic treasures of our area.
Cheney was presented with a painted portrait of his ancestor Samuel Cheney on horseback on the banks of Chickamauga Creek. It was presented by the Civil War Courier, a monthly magazine detailing the Civil War and events surrounding it.
Cheney said of the reenactment proceedings that will fill the weekend, This will be a tremendous experience for everyone to enjoy. These men that will take these fields this weekend will present us with a sense of history and will certainly provide us with a glimpse into the past as our ancestors saw it. They will be paying homage to the memory of those involved in this epic battle.
Cheney said the legacy of the men who fought at Chickamauga continues on through the heroic service of our brave men and women who are fighting for our nation in foreign conflicts.
Cheney ended his remarks by reminding the spectators who had ancestors who served in either blue or gray that today we are one people, one nation, united under one flag.
The 145th Battle of Chickamauga will continue through the weekend with reenactment battles scheduled throughout Saturday and Sunday. Living history displays and vendors will also be on hand throughout the weekend.
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