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tv   Pres. Biden Remarks at Arlington National Cemetery  CSPAN  November 11, 2021 5:37pm-6:01pm EST

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>> the wreath-laying ceremony is now complete. the veterans day program will begin shortly. please move to your seats. pres. biden: thank you.
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[applause] thank you, mr. secretary. pres. biden: thank you, mr. secretary. es, you are afforded many opportunities to try to express your love, commitment, and admiration for the american people. i must say to you that the single greatest honor i have been afforded as president is to stand before so many of you, the medal of honor winners out there to talk about veterans day and veterans.
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i want to welcome all of the cabinet members and honored guests joining us today including the father of our secretary of state who served in the army air corps during world war ii. whose birthday is today. happy birthday. [applause] thank you for your service to our country. i want to tell you, i know you are a little younger than i am, but i have adopted the attitude of a patron who went on to become a great picture -- pit cher named satchel paige. on his 47th birthday, he pitched a win against chicago.
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all the press went in and said it's amazing, 47 years old, no one has ever pitched a win at age 47. how do you feel about being 47? he said that's not how i look at it. i look at it this way. how old would you be if you didn't know how old you were? i'm 50 years old and the ambassador is 47. all kidding aside, thank you for your service during world war ii as well as your service as an ambassador. thank you for raising such a finethank you for raising such a fine man, our secretary of state. to the veterans, we thank you, honor you, and remember always
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what you have done for us. i would like to recognize mr. brian packer. during vietnam, then lieutenant packer put the safety of his fellow troops above his own, even calling in an artillery fire so our forces had a better chance to withdraw. wounded, he evaded capture for eight days until friendly forces retook the position. it is a remarkable story. we will also never forget the stories of american eaters and icons who have shaped our nation in ways that are hard to measure. i have lost three good friends
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in the last month -- general colin powell, child of immigrants who grew up to be secretary of state, a man who was a friend but who earned the universal respect of americans for his leadership in uniform and a guy who became good friends many times i was in and out of iraq, general ray or dinero. he did so much to get us where we are today. it was an honor that my son served under his command. and my friend and colleague max cleveland was a triple amputee. he knew the cost of war as well
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as anyone. he went on to champion the dignity and care of veterans. we lost all three of these veterans in the last several weeks. these are stories that inspired generations of americans to step forward to defend our nation. today, we pay homage to the bravery and dedication that distinguishes all of those who have earned the title of veteran. it is an honor not only eight small percentage of americans can claim, but it is a badge of courage that unites across all ages, regardless of background. to be a veteran is to have endured and survived challenges most will never know. you have braved dangers and
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deprivations, faced down tragic realities. you have done it for us, for america. to defend and serve american values, to protect our country and constitution against all enemies, to lay a strong foundation on which future generations can continue to build a more perfect union. each of our veterans is a link in a proud chain that has stood for the defense of our country, from gettysburg to iwo jima. each understood the price of freedom and shouldered that burden on our behalf. our veterans represent the best of america.
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you are the spine of america. all of us owe you. on veterans day, and every day we honor that great that and recommit ourselves to giving our sacred obligation as a nation, we honor what you have done. we have many obligations. i would have gotten in trouble when i was a young senator for saying we only have one truly sacred obligation -- to properly prepare and equip those we send into harm's way and care for the and their families while they are deployed and when they return home.
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this is a lifetime sacred commitment. it never expires. for me, for joe, for the entire family, it is personal. when both -- beau was deployed to iraq, after spending six months in kosovo trying to set up a criminal justice system, eight got a call from him one day. he said, dead, what are you doing friday? he said, i would like you to pin my bars on. someone has got to finish these words, dad. jill and i learned what it meant to pray every day for the safe return of someone you love.
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our grandkids learned what it meant to have their data overseas instead of tucking them in every night. tense of thousands of americans have had that experience. as john milton wrote, they also serve while we stand and wait. all the mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, spouses, all those who stand alongside veterans and their families, caregivers, survivors, and you are the solid steel spine under every burden. the courageous heart that rises to every challenge. we have asked so much you for so long. our nation is grateful. for two decades, the lives of our service members have been
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shaped by the conflicts in iraq and afghanistan. since 9/11, hundreds of thousands have served. so many are still serving today in harms way. the american people are forever grateful and in all of -- in awe of what you have accomplished, but so many veterans have been through hell. some facing deployment after deployment, spending months and years away from their families. one of the last times i flew into iraq, in the silver bullet, i remember walking up to the cockpit. the crew masters were up there. i said for help many of you is
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this your first tour? no one raised their hand. second tour, one raised their hand. third tour, two raised their hand. fifth, one raised their hand. on veterans day, we have to remember there is nothing a low risk or low cost about war to the men and women who fight it. i carry in my pocket might check with the defense department. in the back of my schedule, i have u.s. daily trips killed and -- troops killed and wounded. 52,323, not roughly 53,000.
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everyone of these individuals has a family at home. 53,323 wounded in iraq and afghanistan. 7074 gave their lives and last full measure of devotion. i am told thousands more return home. our secretary can help you with unseen psychological wounds. these are the costs of war that we will carry as a nation for decades. to all veterans, servicemembers members, families, survivors, our administration is going to meet the sacred obligation that we owe you. we are going to work with
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conference -- with congress to make sure our veterans receive the world-class benefits that they have earned to meet the specific needs that each individually need. that means expanding conditions for those with toxic exposure, including agent orange. we are going to keep pushing to become more nimble, reviewing all the data to make sure our veterans not have to wait to get care. it also means prioritizing mental health care to treat the invisible wounds that so many veterans carry, including pursuing our newly released comprehensive public health strategy to reduce military and veteran suicides. to all our veterans, if you are struggling and are used to never
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asking for anything, reach out. call veterans crisis line. have -- if you are having trouble thinking about things, it is no different than if you had a wound in your arm. making sure that the growing population of women and lgbtq+ veterans receive appropriate services and support as we continue our efforts to be the pandemic, it means keeping veterans front and center. the american rescue plan included $17 billion to support the v.a.'s covered response and to fund programs that provide rapid retraining for veterans who may have lost their jobs in
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the pandemic, housing assistance, debt forgiveness, and to impress that invest in improving living conditions. we are also working to support military families so they can have what they need to thrive. as secretary mcdonough noted, this veterans day also marks the centennial of the tomb of the unknown. 100 years ago today, an american soldier of the first world war known but to god completed the voyage from an unidentified battlefield in france over the rough atlantic sees, here to arlington national cemetery. he lay under the capitol rotunda
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for two days on the same plank that held the body of lincoln as 90,000 americans paid respects. he was then escorted from the capital that capitol by the president, the chief justice of the supreme court, and medal of honor recipients all walking without parallel to give honor to the american servicemen or. the generations of americans who risked all, gave all for the cause of freedom to commemorate in the words of a member of congress who proposed the
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legislation creating the memorial, "an american warrior who typifies the soul of america." veterans are the soul of america. it is why our veterans have always been willing to put themselves on the line. the first unknown lies now with his veteran -- brethren. those who picked up the metal of honor and made it their burden. today, 100 years later, we keep a sacred watch over their graves. generations of elite sentinels pledging eternal vigilance. wheat late reits to renew our
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oath's. -- we lay wreaths to renew our oath's. we must never forget exactly what was given us. each of them was willing to put on the line for us. we must never forget the metis arm of the american warrior, never yielding. generation after generation, they have secured for us liberty, democracy, justice. god bless you all. god bless all american veterans, those who probably earn that title. may god protect our troops. thank you. [applause]
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c-span now. leo shane, deputy editor of the military times, is with us to discuss what faces veterans in the v.a.. has things changed under the biden administration? guest: it's hard to tell. the president came in during the pandemic. that has dominated most of the operations and decisions at the department of veterans affairs. we had a chance to sit down with the department head earlier in the week and he has pointed to their transparency, their message of inclusion, trying to broaden benefit and find ways to cater to more women veterans, more minority veterans, lgbtq veterans. but really, the covid issues have dominated everything. they have dominated the reopening of hospitals

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