The rain was cold and steady during the president’s traditional Veterans Day address saluting all who have served in uniform, but after President Obama left the amphitheatre at Arlington National Cemetary, his car came to an unexpected stop by the gravesites of casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The president and Mrs. Obama got out and wandered amid the headstones, reaching out with a handshake to families they encountered, pausing at the marker for Army Specialist Ross McGinnis of Pennsylvania. They stood there for several minutes. McGinnis died in Iraq in 2006, heroically. His headstone notes McGinnis was awarded the highest tribute, the Medal of Honor. He threw himself on a grenade, saving four others riding in his Humvee. Ross McGinnis was 19 years old.
The poignant stop came two weeks after the president saluted casualties arriving at Dover Air Force Base, and one day after he placed a symbolic Commander in Chief’s coin by the empty boots of the 13 who died in the shooting at Fort Hood, Texas. President Obama returned to the White House where his generals and national security advisors were assembling for another strategy discussion on a new way forward in Afghanistan.