Biden honors fallen troops on Memorial Day, praising their commitment “not to a president,” but to the idea of America


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President Joe Biden is paying tribute to U.S. soldiers who gave their lives for the nation on Monday, visiting Arlington National Cemetery to place a wreath and deliver his annual Memorial Day speech. Mr. Biden extolled the deceased as being “united by a shared devotion not to a location, not to an individual, not to a president, but to an idea…the idea of the United States of America.” This sentiment echoed the president’s graduation address at West Point, where he told the new cadets that they were the defenders of democracy, and they had sworn “an oath — not to a political faction, not to a president, but to the Constitution of the United States of America — against all adversaries, foreign and domestic.” 

National Memorial Day Wreath-Laying and Observance Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, in Washington

President Joe Biden engages in a wreath-placement ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during a National Memorial Day Wreath-Laying and Observance Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, in Washington, May 27, 2024.

Ken Cedeno / REUTERS

Earlier, Mr. Biden held a Memorial Day breakfast for veterans at the White House.

On Friday, Mr. Biden issued a proclamation to recommit to celebrating the memories of the fallen “by continuing their mission to create a more perfect Union.””We are the only Nation in the world founded on the principle that we are all created equal and deserve to be treated equally throughout our entire lives,” the president’s proclamation reads. “Generations of America’s cherished daughters and sons have dared all, risked all, and given all for this principle. Today, as they rest in eternal tranquility, we continue to live by the light of freedom they kept burning brightly.”

Bo Erickson contributed to this report.

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