In a poignant address on Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery, President Joe Biden extended a tribute to the service members who paid the highest price for the freedom and future of our nation.
Biden pays tribute to those who sacrificed their lives
Surrounded by marble tombstones, the President recognized the bravery and sacrifice of those who served our country, stating, “Once again, we stand amid the rows and rows of marble stones and bear witness to the brave women and men who served and sacrificed for our freedom and for our future.”
Drawing a historical parallel, President Biden started his speech by recollecting the first Memorial Day address, delivered by retired Union Gen. James Garfield at Arlington Cemetery in 1868.
Biden quotes retired Union Gen. James Garfield
He quoted Garfield’s words: “One hundred and fifty-five years ago, retired Union General James Garfield spoke here at Arlington, marking our nation’s first Memorial Day,” Biden said.
“Standing amid the rows and rows of marble stones, many of his own fallen soldiers among them, he asked: ‘What brought these men here? What high motive led them to welcome death?’”
An estimated million-plus men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the military since the Civil War initiated in 1861. The Civil War remains the deadliest conflict in American history, accounting for at least 500,000 casualties as per U.S. Census Bureau data.
Biden reiterated the necessity of commemorating our fallen heroes, stating, “We must never forget the lives; these flags, flowers, and marble markers represent a mother, a father, a son, a daughter, a sister, a spouse, a friend, and America. Every year we remember, and every year it never gets easier.”
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President Biden remembers his son, Beau
The President also took a moment to remember his son Beau, a former federal prosecutor and veteran, who lost his battle with cancer in 2015.
In his exact words, Biden said, “Tomorrow marks eight years since we lost our son Beau. Our losses are not the same. He didn’t perish on the battlefield. It was cancer that stole him from us a year after he was deployed as a major of the United States Army National Guard in Iraq”.
“As it is for so many of you, the pain of loss is with us every day but particularly sharp on Memorial Day,” he said.
Biden speaks about laws his admin has passed
President Biden also spoke about his administration’s accomplishments since taking office, particularly regarding laws passed supporting the military community.
Biden said, “Since I took office, more than 25 bipartisan laws have been passed to support our service members, their families, caregivers, and survivors.”
The 155th National Memorial Day ceremony commenced with the traditional wreath-laying ceremony.
President Biden was joined by First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, her husband Douglas Emhoff, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley.
During his own speech, Austin said, “I know that each Memorial Day brings new waves of both pride and pain. Every fallen hero has a story. It is our duty to remember those we have lost.”