President Biden laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery and paid tribute to servicemen and veterans, including his late son Beau, in his Memorial Day address.
Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin joined the Supreme Commander in tribute to the Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice.
He laid the flowers, made the sign of the cross and saluted as the military band played the Star-Spangled Banner for the 155th National Memorial Day Observance.
During his speech, he pointed to Section 60 of Arlington, the final resting place of servicemen killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, as a reminder of those who “sacrificed everything over the past two decades to keep democracy safe.”
President Biden lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in honor of Memorial Day
“Our military has always embodied the highest expectations of our democracy,” Biden said in his speech nearly 21 months after withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.
“Stand again among the rows and rows of stones that testify to the brave women and men who served and sacrificed for our freedom and for our future, those who died,” Biden said, “so that our nation might live.”
“That’s why we’ve always come out of every challenge stronger than when we went in.
“We will never be able to repay the debt we owe them.
“But today we recommit ourselves to the work they gave their lives for, and we recommit to supporting the loved ones they left behind.”
He honored his son Beau, the day before the eighth anniversary of his death from brain cancer after Iraq.
Beau was a major in the military, and Biden has linked his death to exposure to toxic fire pits during his deployment.
“Tomorrow will be eight years since we lost our son Beau.
“He didn’t die on the battlefield, it was cancer. They stole him from us a year after he was deployed as a major in the U.S. Army National Guard and Iraq.”
“As it is for so many of you, the pain of loss is with us every day, but particularly sharp on Memorial Day.
“Dad, it’s my duty,” he recalled his son saying to him when asked about service.
Biden also paid his respects to the families who are knocked on the door to say that their loved ones will not be coming home from the battlefield.
“Every year we remember, and every year it never gets easier,” he told the 3,000 audience in his Memorial Day address.
“Today we gather again in this holy place at this solemn hour.”
He praised bills that help veterans gain better access to care, including the PACT bill for military personnel exposed to toxic burns.
At one point he pointed out a young girl to whom he gave a pen when signing the bill last year.
Her father, Keith Robinson, is said to have died from exposure to burns.
He ended by saying, “We are the only nation in the world built on the idea…that we are all created equal
“We haven’t always lived up to it, but we’ve never run away from it… to all those who gave their lives for that mission, we can say we never will.”
He laid the flowers, made the sign of the cross, and saluted as the military band played the Star-Spangled Banner
Biden salutes alongside VP Kamala Harris and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin as the national anthem is played at Arlington National Cemetery
(From left) Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, Kamala Harris and Jill Biden bow their heads during Memorial Day commemoration
“We will never be able to repay the debt we owe them,” Biden said during his Memorial Day address about US servicemen and veterans
Biden, Kamala Harris and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin participate in the wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery
Biden paid tribute to his son Beau, one day before the eighth anniversary of his death from cancer
Ching Wagoner of Roanoke, Virginia visits the grave of her son Aiden Flores Wagoner, United States Air Force Senior Airman
Eugene and Linda Lamie of Homerville, Georgia sit at the grave of their son U.S. Army Sgt. Gene Lamie
Avery Carlin rests at the headstone of her uncle U.S. Army Cpl. Michael Avery Pursel
Raphael Michel, 7, of Washington, visits the grave of a soldier his father served with in Arlington
Krista Meinert touches the headstone of her son, US Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jacob Alexander Meinert
Visitors walk through the rolling mounds of tombstones that mark the final resting place of American servicemen
Vadim Gunyan from Washington visits the grave of Sgt. John D. Linde, with whom he served, in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery