President Barack Obama paid a Memorial Day tribute to generations of Americans who have fought and died to defend the nation’s freedom.
“The grief that many of you carry in your hearts is a grief I cannot fully know,” Obama said at the 144th Memorial Day Observance at Arlington National Cemetery. “This day is about you and the fallen heroes that you loved, and it’s a day that has meaning for all Americans.”
Earlier in the day he and first lady Michelle Obama hosted a private breakfast for Gold Star families who’ve lost loved ones in war and later laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at the cemetery.
After Obama’s remarks, he and the first lady visited the cemetery’s Section 60 to meet with families of soldiers buried there. Section 60 is for those who lost their lives since the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Almost 6,000 U.S. military personnel have died in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more than 43,470 have been wounded, according to the Defense Department.
“We remember that the blessings we enjoy as Americans came at a dear cost, that our very presence here today as a free people in a free society bears testimony to their enduring legacy,” the president said to an audience of military officials, their families and the public at the remembrance ceremony at Memorial Amphitheater in Arlington.
In a Memorial Day proclamation, the president ordered the U.S. flag be flown at half-staff on government buildings until noon, and asked that Americans observe a moment of remembrance at 3 p.m. local time.
“As a grateful nation, we forever carry the selfless sacrifice of our fallen heroes in our hearts, and we share the task of caring for those they left behind,” the proclamation said in part.
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