A beautiful sunny day to celebrate Memorial Day, pay tribute to fallen soldiers and give thanks to those still serving.
The circumstances surrounding today are very different than in previous years. It is the first Memorial Day in fourteen years that there haven’t been U.S. soldiers currently fighting in a “major ground war”. There are only 10,000 troops currently stationed in Afghanistan reduced from 100,000 and those remaining troops are planned to be removed in the coming year. The U.S. is helping Iraq overthrow an Islamic State extremist group that’s been wreaking havoc in recent weeks.
Celebrations have been going on all weekend preceding today’s events. The Ride For Freedom took place Sunday and featured thousands of bikers saluting veterans and revving their engines followed by a concert playing all patriotic music.
This morning President Barack Obama hosted a private breakfast at The White House. Invited were representatives of military family service organizations, Gold Star Mothers, Gold Star Wives and Sons and Daughters In Touch. He reflected on this meal and said:
“Most Americans don’t fully see, don’t fully understand, the sacrifices of the 1 percent of the Americans who serve in this all-volunteer force. Our Gold Star families, our military families, our veterans, they know this intimately. Whenever I meet with our ‘Gold Star’ families, as I did this morning, I see that their hearts are still broken, but still full of love. In the face of unspeakable loss, they represent the best of who we are.”
Later on, Obama lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns to pay homage to the nations service members who’ve fallen. He stood at the tomb, located at the Arlington National Cemetery, and spoke to military officials, families and a crowd of thousands of people. He told the group that the cemetery they’re standing in is more than just a cemetery, that “it is a reflection of America itself. A reflection of our history, the wars we’ve waged for democracy, the peace we’ve laid to preserve it. It is a reflection of our diversity, of people from different races and creeds who fought for the ideals that bind us as one nation.” He took advantage of the annual rite for presidents and told everyone that with regards to the soldiers…we should “never stop trying to fully repay them”.
This afternoon there is a Memorial Day parade taking place in downtown Washington and other events taking place across the country (parades, picnics, tributes).
Troops currently stationed in Afghanistan took a moment of silence for the men and women who have lost their lives while serving. So take a moment out of your day today and…
Reflect, Remember, Respect.