ABC News’ Sunlen Miller reports: In a place which President Obama said it would be “impossible” not to be moved by sacrifice, Mr. and Mrs. Obama today marked Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery.
The President noted that just yesterday he visited with troops at Fort Hood and paid tribute to those who the nation recently lost as well as the lives led of those killed.
“There was something that I saw in them, something that I see in the eyes of every soldier and sailor, airman, Marine and Coastguardsman that I have had the privilege to meet in this country and around the world, and that thing is determination. In this time of war, we gather here, mindful that the generations serving today already deserves a place alongside previous generations for the courage they have shown and the sacrifices that they have made. In an era where so many acted only in pursuit of narrow self- interests, they’ve chosen the opposite. They chose to serve the cause that is greater than self, many even after they knew they’d be sent into harm’s way.”
The President said that while today is called a holiday – it has a different meaning for so many. “For many veterans, it’s another day of memories that drive them to live their lives each day as best as they possibly can. For our troops, it is another day in harm’s way. For their families, it is another day to feel the absence of a loved one and the concern for their safety. For our wounded warriors, it is another day of slow and arduous recovery. And in this national cemetery, it is another day when grief remains fresh.”
While it’s important to mark this day, the President said, it is “far more important” to keep the promises made to vets and noted that this is a promise the nation has not always upheld, singling out the treatment of Vietnam veterans.
“If we’re honest with ourselves, we will admit there have been times where we, as a nation, have betrayed that sacred trust. Our Vietnam veterans served with great honor, and they often came home greeted not with gratitude or support but with condemnation and neglect. That’s something that will never happen again.”
The President said it is never too late to say “thank you” for their service. Mr. Obama thanked the Vice President’s son, Beau Biden for his service, as he just got back from Iraq.
“Our servicemen and women have been doing right by America for generations and, as long as I am commander in chief, America is going to do right by them. And that is my message to all veterans today,” President Obama said, “America will not let you down. We will take care of our own.”
The President said that the nation fights “in hopes of a day when we no longer need to,” and during today’s “solemn remembrances” and “reminders of war,” the nation also recommits “to the hard work of peace.”
“There will be a day before long when this generation of servicemen and -women step out of uniform. They will build families and lives of their own. God willing, they will grow old, and someday their children and their children’s children will gather here to honor them.”
Beforehand the President laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Mr. and Mrs. Obama also hosted a Veterans Day breakfast at the White House this morning, with veterans of all era. A POW/MIA flag flies over the White House, in addition to the American flag, today.