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Biden honors troops' sacrifice on Memorial Day

Biden honors fallen troops on Memorial Day
Biden's Memorial Day address honors troops who "sacrificed everything to keep democracy safe and secure" 15:46

President Joe Biden honored U.S. troops who died fighting for their country, marking Memorial Day with the traditional wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, and he is making remarks to pay tribute to the fallen.

We're here to "once again stand amid the rows and rows of stones that bear witness to the brave women and men who served and sacrificed for our freedom and for our future, those who died" Mr. Biden said, "so that our nation might live."

Memorial Day falls close to the date of the death of the president's son, Beau Biden. "Tomorrow marks eight years since we lost our son, Beau, Mr. Biden said, adding that his life was not taken on the battlefield, but by cancer. He said the sense of the loss of his son is "particularly sharp" on Memorial Day, but at the same time, he feels pride at his service. The younger Biden served in Iraq for the Delaware Air National Guard. 

The president spoke of the need to fulfill the "sacred obligation" the nation has "to prepare those we send into harm's way and care for them and their families when they come home." He mentioned 25 bipartisan laws that have been passed to support veterans, military members, their families and survivors, and highlighted legislation to help millions of veterans exposed to burn pits. 

Earlier, Mr. Biden was joined by first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Harris' husband, Douglas Emhoff, for the 155th National Memorial Day Observance. The president stood for a moment of contemplation before the wreath and bowed his head in prayer.

President Joe Biden participates in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, on May 29, 2023, in observance of Memorial Day. MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

The holiday honoring America's fallen service members came a day after Mr. Biden and Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reached final agreement on a deal that would raise America's debt limit and that now awaits approval by Congress.

The president has taken pride in the fact that his administration has overseen a time of relative peace for the U.S. military after two decades of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It's been nearly 21 months since Biden ended the nation's longest war in Afghanistan, making good on a campaign promise to end a 20-year-old "forever war" that cost the lives of more than 2,400 U.S. service members.

The war in Afghanistan, however, ended in deadly and chaotic fashion on Mr. Biden's watch in August 2021 with critics blasting the administration's handling of the evacuation of some 120,000 American citizens, Afghans and others as poorly planned and badly executed.

The Biden administration last month released a review of the last days of the war, largely blaming his Republican predecessor, President Donald Trump, and asserting that Mr. Biden was "severely constrained" by Trump's decisions.

The U.S. now finds itself leading a coalition of allies pouring tens of billions of dollars in military and economic aid into Ukraine as it tries to repel the Russian invasion, which does not appear to have no end in sight.

Mr. Biden has said he has no desire for U.S. troops to enter the conflict but maintains that the Russian effort to grab territory is an affront to international norms, and he has vowed to help Kyiv win, sending artillery, tanks and drones and recently agreeing to allow allies to train Ukrainian military on American F-16 jets.

Before Monday's ceremony at the Arlington, Virginia, cemetery, the Bidens hosted a breakfast at the White House for members of veterans organizations, military service and military family organizations, surviving families of fallen U.S. troops, senior Department of Defense officials and other administration officials.

The president and the first lady were scheduled to return their home near Wilmington, Delaware, later Monday to spend the rest of the federal holiday.

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