(AFP PHOTO/Jewel SamadJEWEL…)
WASHINGTON -- President Obama opened the Memorial Day holiday with a weekly address that reflected on the meaning of the holiday.
“Memorial Day is more than a three-day weekend,” Obama said in the address, which is posted online every Saturday. “In town squares and national cemeteries, in public services and moments of quiet reflection, we will honor those who loved their country enough to sacrifice their own lives for it.”
Obama and his wife Michelle will spend the holiday with Gold Star families and veterans and their family members at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.
“Even as we honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice, we reaffirm our commitment to care for those who served alongside them – the veterans who came home,” Obama said. “This includes our newest generation of veterans, from Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Outreach to veterans has been a special cause for the first lady, whose veteran employment initiative “Joining Forces” has been in effect for more than a year.
“We have to serve them and their families as well as they have served us: by making sure that they get the healthcare and benefits they need; by caring for our wounded warriors and supporting our military families; and by giving veterans the chance to go to college, find a good job, and enjoy the freedom that they risked everything to protect,” Obama said.
“No words can ever bring back a loved one who has been lost. No ceremony can do justice to their memory. No honor will ever fill their absence,” he said. “But on Memorial Day, we come together as Americans to let these families and veterans know that they are not alone. We give thanks for those who sacrificed everything so that we could be free. And we commit ourselves to upholding the ideals for which so many patriots have fought and died.”