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Biden honors fallen troops on Memorial Day, praising commitment "not to a president," but to idea of America

Severe weather impacting Memorial Day travel, AAA offers free tow-to-go service and more top stories
Severe weather impacting Memorial Day travel, AAA offers free tow-to-go service and more top stories 04:01

President Joe Biden honored U.S. troops who sacrificed their lives for the country Monday, visiting Arlington National Cemetery to to lay a wreath and deliver his annual Memorial Day address. 

In brief remarks, Mr. Biden praised the fallen as having been "bound by a common commitment not to a place, not to a person, not to a president, but to an idea…the idea of the United States of America." It echoed the president's commencement speech at West Point on Saturday, when he told graduating cadets that they were the guardians of democracy, and they had taken "an oath — not to a political party, not to a president, but to the Constitution of the United States of America — against all enemies, foreign and domestic." 

National Memorial Day Wreath-Laying and Observance Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, in Washington
President Joe Biden participates in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during a National Memorial Day Wreath-Laying and Observance Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, in Washington, May 27, 2024. Ken Cedeno / REUTERS

Each Memorial Day brings memories of Mr. Biden's son, Beau Biden, who served in Iraq for the Delaware Air National Guard died in 2015 of brain cancer. 

"This week marks nine years since I lost my son Beau. Our losses are not the same," the president said, addressing the families and loved ones of service members who died. "He didn't perish in the battlefield. He was a cancer victim from a consequence of being in the Army in Iraq for a year next to a burn pit." The president went on to tout the progress made by the PACT Act to help veterans who were exposed to toxic materials during their service. He also noted that since he took office, he has signed more than 30 bipartisan bills to help veterans.

Earlier, Mr. Biden hosted a Memorial Day breakfast for veterans at the White House.

On Friday, Mr. Biden issued a proclamation to recommit to honoring the memories of the fallen "by carrying on their work to forge a more perfect Union."

"We are the only Nation in the world founded on the idea that we are all created equal and deserve to be treated equally throughout our entire lives," the president's proclamation reads. "Generations of America's beloved daughters and sons have dared all, risked all, and given all for this idea. Today, as they lie in eternal peace, we continue to live by the light of liberty they kept burning bright."

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