WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden paid tribute to the men and women who gave their lives in service to their country in a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, speaking in deeply personal terms of overcoming the loss and of the importance of upholding democratic values at home and abroad.
Addressing the sacrifice made by military families who lost a loved one, Biden spoke at length about his personal experience of the loss of his son Beau Biden, an Iraq War veteran, who died of brain cancer he six years ago yesterday.
“To those mourning a loved one today, Jill and I have a sense of how you feel,” Biden said in an address after laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, “Our losses are not the ones. same, but that black hole you feel in your chest, like it’s going to suck you in, we’ve got it. “
It was the first time Biden as Commander-in-Chief had participated in a ceremony that has taken place annually since the Civil War. In his remarks, Biden called on Americans to empathize with each other more and unite around the common ideals America is built on. He also touched on several issues the country currently faces, including voting rights and racial equality.
“Democracy thrives, and the infrastructure of democracy is strong, when people have the right to vote freely, fairly, and conveniently, in a free and independent press to seek the truth, followed by facts, not propaganda,” about the rule of law applied equally and fairly for every citizen, no matter where they come from, what they look like, ”Biden said.
Biden also gave a warning to those around the world and at home who pose a threat to democracy.
“Our troops have fought this battle on fields around the world, but also a battle of our time, and the mission for each of us, every day,” Biden said. “Democracy itself is at risk here at home and in the world.”
At one point, Biden pulled out of his pocket a map he said he had with him every day with the number of soldiers who lost their lives in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which stood at 7,036 in this Memorial Day.
Biden reflected on several occasions during his remarks over Memorial Day weekend about his son Beau’s service and how he was affected by his death at the age of 46. other family members celebrated the anniversary of Beau’s death with a memorial on Sunday. to their church in Delaware and then walked to his grave and left flowers.
“Yesterday marked the anniversary of his death and it’s a tough time, a tough time here for me and my family, just like a lot of you are,” Biden said. “It may hurt to remember, but pain is the way we feel and how we heal. I always feel Beau close to me on Remembrance Day, I always know where I need to be, right here to honor our fallen heroes.
As Biden’s procession exited Arlington Cemetery, he made an unscheduled stop among gravestones to meet several families paying their respects to him.