President Barack Obama paid tribute to America’s soldiers on Monday, making special note of the coming 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War and urging Americans to remember the sacrifices made in Afghanistan as that conflict draws to an end.
Speaking at the annual Memorial Day ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, Obama expressed his concern that the sacrifices made by the men and women fighting in the nation’s recent and current conflicts are not being appreciated, in an era where “most Americans are not directly touched by war.” The president noted that the trend might have something to do with America’s all-volunteer military force, as well as technological advances, which allow the completion of objectives with far fewer personnel.
Obama stated that, even as “we turn a page” away from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, "let us never forget that the nation is still at war." The president spoke of an instance in which a soldier wrote to him to express his fear that "our work in Afghanistan is fading from memory.”
The president discussed the exploits of a Marine who never bragged about all the lives he had saved, as well as a soldier who volunteered for five tours of duty because he wanted to complete America’s mission in the Middle East. "We must remember our countrymen are still serving, still fighting, putting their loves on the line for all of us," Obama said.
After placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, Obama gave his speech at the Arlington National Cemetery’s amphitheater, referring to the site as a "a monument to a constant thread in the American character.” The president added that America endures because "it has always been home to men and women who are willing to give their all ... to preserve and protect the land that we love."