WASHINGTON — More than just barbecues and family time, Memorial Day is the chance to honor members of the military who made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of their country, President Obama says.
Obama, who has sent thousands of troops into war in Afghanistan, used his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday to reflect on what the nation owes those men and women who died in uniform.
Honor them with words and deeds, the commander in chief said. That means ensuring that combat troops have the support they need in the field and that veterans get the help they need when they return home.
"In short, by serving all those who have ever worn the uniform of this country — and their families — as well as they have served us," the president said.
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Obama said the U.S. owes its position as the most prosperous and powerful nation on earth to a commitment from the earliest years of the country "to serve, to fight and if necessary to die to preserve America and advance the ideals we cherish."
Obama has been criticized by some veterans groups for planning to attend a holiday service Monday at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery outside Chicago, instead of going to Arlington National Cemetery as presidents often do on Memorial Day and as he did last year. Vice President Joe Biden will be at Arlington this year.