tv President Biden Delivers Memorial Day Remarks at Arlington National Cemetery CSPAN May 31, 2021 4:57pm-5:38pm EDT
announcer: chaplain colonel michael sherman. >> please join me in prayer. almighty god, who is the champion of liberty, the champion of our freedoms, and of the god who loves us with an everlasting love, today let us lift our hearts in prayer and thanksgiving to you for those patriots who paid the ultimate price by giving their lives for their country. with humble hearts, may we never forget their patriotism and commitment. as a nation, we can never be grateful enough for the bravery
of those sons and daughters who preserved our freedoms. lord, thank you for the gift of liberty and the blessings of freedom that you have bestowed on our nation, the united states of america. let us never forget these heroic souls, our brothers and sisters of days gone by, some who never had the chance to grow old. notice think them for their sacrifice as it continues to be our blessing in their bravery -- and at their bravery continues to be our reward. and your gracious name i pray, amen. announcer: ladies and gentlemen, please join the sergeant first class and the bandit in the singing of our national anthem. >> present flags.
♪ >> ♪ oh say can you see by the dawn's early light? what so proudly we hailed, at the twilight's last gleaming. whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight? or the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming? and the rockets red glare. the bombs bursting in air. gave proof through the night, that our flag was still there. oh say does that star-spangled banner yet
and fellow americans. and most important, goldstar families, those that are here and of those who could not make it here. it is an honor to join you all in remembrance and reflection on this 153rd observance of memorial day for the over one million americans who have given the last full measure of devotion in the service to their country. since our founding, more than 42 million americans have stepped forward to serve their country as soldiers, airmen, marines and coast guardsmen. their story is one of courage, selflessness and commitment. this memorial day, we honor their memory and the values they upheld so we could live in freedom, from bunker hill to gettysburg, to iwo jima, to
mosul. their sacrifice as an example for all of us to never forget and to always honor. at the first official memorial day ceremony held here in 1868, children who had been orphaned by the civil war moved throughout the cemetery laying flowers on the graves of our soldiers. since that day, 153 years ago, on this date in may we come together as americans to mourn. but more importantly, we come together as americans to remember that we owe the brave men and women who have lost their lives in service to this nation. and remember that behind every: comrade is a family. a family whose sacrifices and
body of the soul that is america. reflect on the dreams never realized, the pain of a parent who has lost a child. the pain of a child who has lost a parent. for every day is memorial day for the families of our fallen. today is also a day to celebrate the courage and how they lived and why they fought. to remember that they lived for something bigger than themselves. they fought for the values and traditions of this nation. they fought for the belief that under these colors, red white and blue, all of us are americans. and we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and all women are created equal. and each of our fallen knew freedom was worth fighting for. and each of them made a difference. it's up to us, the living, to recommit ourselves to the cause
for which they died. but equally important, for the cause for which they died -- for which they lived. it is our job to live a life worthy of their sacrifice. may god bless our fallen. may god bless the families of our fallen. and may god give us the strength to defend the strength that you defended the idea that is america. and to ensure the nation shall not perish from this earth. it's my privilege to introduce the secretary of defense, a man i have known for quarter of a century, and his leadership in the crucible of battle i have personally witnessed. he is the leader of extraordinary integrity and it is my pleasure to serve alongside him again. it is my honor to introduce the
28th united states secretary of defense lloyd jane austen the , third. >> mr. president. dr. biden, madam vice president, mr. emhoff. general milley, distinguished guests, service members, goldstar family members, my fellow veterans, ladies and gentlemen. thank you for joining us on this solemn day in this solemn place. we come together to remember and to renew our sense of common purpose. and to reach out to those who have long warned and to those
who newly grieve. mr. president, in thinking about joining you here today i reflected upon a meeting i held a few days ago with some of our goldstar and surviving families. one of them was shannon, a wife of a marine reservist. they have three children. her husband, chris, was killed by a suicide bomber on april 8, 20 and afghanistan. the first thing she said in our meeting was, i'm going to try not to cry. and she told us that before her husband left on one of his deployments, she sat him down and said god forbid something happens to you. but if it does where you want me , to bury you?
and he told her, i do not care. i just want to be near you. and today, staff sergeant chris -- rests here in arlington in section 60, alongside so many of his brothers and sisters in arms who made sacrifice in this longest of american wars. our goldstar and surviving families wage a fight that goes on long after the funerals. and it is our sacred duty to do more to ease the burden that they shoulder on memorial day, and every day. because for as long as america has sent our sons and daughters into harm's way, those on the homefront have also been on the front lines. mr. president, you know firsthand the pride of seeing a
loved one put on our country's uniform. you also know what it means to wait and worry while a son serves in about is on far away. you know what it means to commit american troops to fight. you understand the mixture of pride, stress and fear and love that all of our military families live with. as a former commander i know these feelings myself. for the loved ones of those who have fallen, let me say, we know the depth of your sacrifice. but we can never truly know the depth of your loss. what we can do is honor the memory of those you lost by caring the memories of those who
mourn them. and by seeking to perfect our union and defend our democracy. and by striving to live our lives in ways that advance the ideals for which they gave their all. it is an honor to be here with all of you today. ladies and gentlemen, the president of the united states. [applause] pres. biden: madam vice president, secretary alston, secretary mcdonough, general milley, goldstar families, my fellow americans.
we are gathered at this sacred place, in this solemn hour, to engage in the most fundamental of undertakings, the right of remembrance. we remember those who gave their all in the service of america. in the service of freedom. in the service of justice. to remember their sacrifice, their valor, and their grace. remember their smiles, their loves, laughter, their vibrant and transcendent humanity. for while we stand among monuments of stone we must never , forget that each of these markers for those known and unknown here in arlington, and far beyond, represent a precious life. a son, a daughter, a mother, a spouse, a sister, a friend, a
neighbor. for those who mourn a loved one today, jill and i have some idea of how you are feeling. our losses are not the same, but that black hole you feel in your chest that sucks you in, we get it. i know the pride that you felt seeing your loved one where the uniform of our country. and to the pride or they felt wearing it. our son, beau, and his service in the delaware national guard unit. the year that he spent in iraq was one of the things he was most proud of in life. yesterday marked the anniversary of his death. and it is a hard time of year
for me and our family. just like it is for so many of you. it can hurt to remember, but the heart -- hurt is how we feel and how we heal. i always feel beau close to mila me on memorial day. and i know exactly where i need to be. right here, honoring our fallen heroes. the pain and anguish of his loss, but i remember the pride on his face when he penned those bars on his shoulders. all of you who are fighting with the fresh pain of loss, as hard as it is to believe i promise you this -- the day will come when the image of your loved one brings a smile to her lips
before it brings a tear to your eyes. the bible teaches, blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. that comfort, that reassurance can be a long time coming. but it will come. i promise you. my prayer for you is that that day will come sooner rather than later. we all know memorial day's origins were in the wake of the civil war. a war for the freedom of all. a war for union, a war for liberty, and for the preservation of the constitution. in calling for such today, general john logan commander of , the grand army of the republic issued general order number he
11. directed that the nation set aside to honor those who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, hamlet, churchyard throughout the land. and so we have. and it so we do again today, in our time. we are the children of sacrifice made by a long line of american , service members. each a link in that chain of honor. we live by the light of liberty they kept burning. we are free because they were brave. here on these gentle, rolling green hills, and across america and around the globe lie to the buried the heroes of the greatest experiment the world has ever known, ever seen.
the experiment bears the noble name, the united states of america. women and men, all of those we honor today, gave their lives for their country, but they live forever in our hearts, forever proud of forever honorable. they are forever american. they are the sentinels of liberty. defenders of the downtrodden. liberators of nations. still today, americans stand watch around the world, often at great personal peril. war, conflict, death, loss, are not relics of our american history, they are part of the
american story. here in arlington heroes -- lie heroes that gave what president lincoln called the last full measure of devotion. they did not just die on the fields of gettysburg, but the mountains of afghanistan and deserts of iraq in the last 20 years. when i walk through it reminds me of the cost of war. hundreds of graves, hundreds of graves here from recent conflicts. hundreds of patriots gave their all, each of them leaving behind a family to live with the pain of their absence every day. i want to assure each family that we will never forget what you gave to our country. we will never fail to honor your
sacrifice. each day, starting when i was vice president of the united states, i carry in my pocket a number of troops killed during the wars in afghanistan and iraq . it is not an approximation, not rounded off numbers -- they each leave behind a community and family. and today that number is 7036. 7036 fallen angels who have lost their lives. on this memorial day, we honor their legacy and sacrifice, duty, honor, country. they lived for it.
they died for it. and we as a nation are eternally grateful. you know, america has been forged in the fires of war. our freedom and at the freedom of others has been secured by young men and women who answered the call of history and gave everything in the service of an idea. the idea of america. it's the greatest idea in the long history of humankind. an idea that we are all created equal, in the image of almighty god. that we are all entitled to dignity, as my father would say, and respect. decency and honor, love of neighbor, they are not empty
words. but the vital beating heart of our nation, and that democracy must be defended at all costs. because democracy makes all this possible. democracy is the soul of america. i believe it is a soul worth fighting for. and so do you. a soul worth dying for. heroes who lie in eternal peace in this beautiful place, this sacred place, they believe that too. the soul of america is animated by the perennial battle between our worst instincts, which we have seen of late, and are -- our better angels. between may 1 and we -- firs -- me first and way that people
-- we the people. between cruelty and kindness, captivity and freedom, greed and generosity. the americans of lexington and concord, iwo jima, normandie, korea, afghanistan, vietnam, iraq, and thousands of places in between. they were not fighting for dictators. they were fighting for democracy. they were not fighting to exclude or enslave, but to build, broaden and liberate. they were not fighting for themselves, but the soul of the nation. for liberty, and simple fairplay . simple fairplay and decency. today, as we remember their sacrifice, we remind ourselves of our duty to their memory, to the future they fought for.
we owe the honored data debt -- dead a debt we can never repay. we owe them our whole souls, our best efforts to perfect the union for which they died. we owe them the work of our hands and our hearts to make real the promise of a nation founded on the proposition that all of us, all of us, all of us, are created equal and deserve to be treated that way throughout our lives. democracy is more than a form of government. it is a way of being. it is a way of seeing the world. democracy means the rule of the people. the rule of the people. not the rule of monarchs, not th e rule of money, not the rule of the mighty.
it literally the rule of the people. the lives of billions, from and to getty to our own hour have been dictated by the greed of the few. between people's rights to self-determination and the self-seeking of a dictator. between dreams of democracy and appetites for autocracy, which we are seeing around the world. our troops have fought this battle on fields around the world, but also, the battle of our time. and the mission of policy each of us each and every day, democracy itself is in peril. here at home and around the world. what we do now, how we honor the memory of the fallen, will determine whether or not democracy will long endure. we all take it for granted. we learned in school that every
generation has to fight for it, but look, it is the biggest question -- whether a system that prizes the individual and bends towards liberty, it gives everyone a chance of prosperity, whether that system can and will prevail against powerful forces that wish it harm. all that we do in our common life as a nation is part of that struggle, the struggle for democracy is taking place around the world. democracy and autocracy. the struggle for decency and dignity. just simple decency. the struggle for prosperity and progress. and yes, the struggle for the soul of america itself. folks, you all know it,
democracy thrives on the -- when the infrastructure of democracy is strong. when people have the right to vote freely, fairly, and conveniently. when a free and independent press pursues the truth, founded on facts, not propaganda. when the rule of law applies equally and fairly to every citizen regardless of where they , come from and what they look like. wherever americans are, there is democracy. churches and synagogues and mosques, neighborhoods, coffee shops and diners, the bleachers at soccer games, libraries and parks. democracy begins and grows in the open heart and the impetus to come together for a common cause.
i might know parenthetically, thank you taps. that's what you do. that is where you will be preserved. for empathy is the fuel of democracy. let me say that again. empathy. empathy is the fuel of democracy. our willingness to see each other, not as enemies and neighbors, even when we disagree, to understand what the other is going through. to state the obvious, our democracy is imperfect. it always has been. but americans of all backgrounds, races, creeds, gender identities, sexual orientations have long spilled their blood to defend our democracy. the diversity of our country and our armed services is and always has been an incredible strength.
and generation after generation of american heroes has signed up -- have signed up to be part of the fight because they understand the truth that lives in every american heart. that liberation, opportunity, justice are far more likely to come to pass in a democracy than an autocracy. if every person is a sacred, and every person's rights are sacred, individual dignity, individual worth, individual sanctity, the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. we say those words so often, but think of it. the right to vote. the right to rise in the world as far as your talent can take you. unlimited by unfair barriers of
privilege and power. such are the principles of democracy. so how do we put these noble practice -- of noble principles into practice? how do we do that? how do we make the idea real, or as close to real as we can make it? this nation was built on an idea. the only nation built on idea. every nation is built on ethnography, geography, religion, etc.. we were built on an idea, liberty for all. we never realized that aspiration but every generation has opened the door a little wider, to be more inclusive to , include those who have been excluded before. it is a mission handed down generation to generation, the work of perfecting our union.
in 1830, when we were a young nation, this union put interest ahead of the common good. a great senator, daniel webster, rose in the capital to defend the union. to him we were not just a collection of competing forces, but incoherent -- a coherent whole. his cry started just across the potomac in the capitol, and it resonates now. he stood on the floor and he said liberty and union, now and forever, one and inseparable. liberty and union. more than 142 years later, when i first came to the united states senate at a time when our country was so deeply divided over vietnam, a struggle of civil-rights and the fight over women's rights, i had the notion that my first task as i stood to make my first speech on the
floor of the senate, it all of a sudden hit me. i'm standing where daniel webster had stood. his desk was next to mine. i was struck by the way that history, as corny as it sounds, by the legacy and the work we are charged to carryforward. liberty and union. now and forever. now is then -- now as then, liberty is central to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. so we remember those who gave their all in the cause of unity, and a nation that endures because of them. we must honor their sacrifice by sustaining the best of america while honestly confronting we must do to make our nation full or, freer, and more just. you must remember that we may find the light and the wisdom
and the courage to move forward in the way -- in the words of that great hymn, fight as they nobly fought of old. in memories not just our history, but our hope. not just our remembrance but renewed purpose. not just our solace, but strength. this memorial day, remember that not all of us are called to make the ultimate sacrifice. we are all called by god and by history and by conscience to make our nation free and fair. just and strong. noble and whole. to this battle, may we now dedicate our souls. that our work may prove worthy of the blood of our fallen.
for this work, the work of democracy, is the work of our time. and for all time. if we do our duty, ages to come will look back and say that we too kept the faith. there is nothing more important, more sacred, more american than keeping the faith. god bless the united states of america. may the light perpetually side of -- shine upon the fallen. may god bring comfort to their families. god protect our troops today and always. god bless you all. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2020] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]