Veterans

May 29, 2012

All Americans must help shoulder burden of war

by Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the Memorial Day observance ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington Va., May 28, 2012.

ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, Va. – Binding the wounds of war is the priority for our nation, President Barack Obama said during the Memorial Day observance May 28.

Representing all Americans, the president placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns and then spoke at the Memorial Amphitheatre.

“Today we come together as Americans to pray, to reflect and to remember these heroes,” he said. “But tomorrow this hallowed place will once again belong to a smaller group of visitors … following a well-worn path to a certain spot and kneeling in front of a familiar headstone. You are the family and friends of the fallen.”

Those who have lost a loved one “leave a piece of yourselves beneath these trees,” the president said. “You, too, call this sanctuary home.”

The president noted that for the first time in nine years Americans are not fighting and dying in Iraq. The war in Afghanistan is winding down, he said, and U.S. troops deployed there will come home. “After a decade under the dark cloud of war, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon,” he said.

With the war in Iraq over, the president put the scale of the sacrifice in perspective. He spoke of the four Marines who died in a helicopter crash on the first day of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003. Maj. Jay Thomas Aubin, Capt. Ryan Anthony Beaupre, Cpl. Brian Matthew Kennedy and Staff Sgt. Kendall Damon Watersbey were the first casualties of the war. He then spoke of the last of the nearly 4,500 casualties: Army Spc. David Hickman who was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad a month before the last Americans left Iraq in December.

The president spoke about meeting the Hickman family at Fort Bragg, N.C. “Right now, the Hickmans are beginning a very difficult journey that so many of your families have traveled before them – a journey that more families will take in the months and years ahead,” he said.

Obama spoke directly to the families of the fallen and shared what he told the Hickmans: that there is no more wrenching decision as president than sending service members into harm’s way.

“I can promise you that I will never do so unless it is absolutely necessary,” he said. “Then when we do, we must give our troops a clear mission and the full support of a grateful nation.”

Americans need to help the families facing such tragedy, the president said. “As a country, all of us can and should ask ourselves how we can help you shoulder a burden that no one should have to bear alone.

“As we honor your mothers and fathers, your sons and daughters who have given their last full measure of devotion to this country, we have to ask ourselves how we can support you and your families, and give you some strength.”

The best way to help is to remember the sacrifices and to remember the dead as not just a line in the newspaper, but as individuals, Obama said. The country can honor them by meeting its obligations to those who did come home, he added.

“To all our men and women in uniform who are here today, know this: The patriots who rest beneath these hills were fighting for many things – for their families, for their flag – but above all, they were fighting for you,” Obama said. “As long as I am president, we will make sure you and your loved ones will receive the benefits you’ve earned and the respect you deserve. America will be there for you.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

VA announces single regional framework under MyVA initiative

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Jan. 26 that it is taking the first steps under the MyVA initiative to realign its many organizational maps into one map with five regions to better serve Veterans. The new regions under the MyVA alignment will allow VA to begin the process of integrating disparate organizational boundaries into...
 
 
Navy photograph by PO2 Brian Wilbur

Nisei veterans honored with France’s highest award

Navy photograph by PO2 Brian Wilbur Adm. Harry Harris Jr., commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, delivers remarks at a ceremony honoring World War II veterans of the 100th Battalion 442nd Regiment at the Japanese Cultural Center of ...
 
 

VA announces appointment of new members to advisory council

The Department of Veterans Affairs is announcing the appointment of new members to the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses. VA will appoint Stephen L. Hauser, MD as committee chair for a term through September, 2016. Hauser is the Robert A. Fishman Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology at the...
 

 

Applications accepted for 2015 National Veterans Wheelchair Games

The Department of Veterans Affairs is accepting applications for the 2015 National Veterans Wheelchair Games. Registration began in early January and will close April 15. The National Veterans Wheelchair Games is a sports and rehabilitation program for military service Veterans who use wheelchairs for sports competition due to spinal cord injuries, amputations or certain neurological...
 
 

Report: Agent Orange planes hold risk years after Vietnam

The health of some U.S. Air Force reservists could have been put at risk from the residue left in planes that sprayed Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, the Institute of Medicine reported Jan. 9. There’s not much data about the level of contamination, but limited testing years later make it plausible that some reservists...
 
 

Consolidation of POW/MIA mission moving forward

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Jan. 9 the Defense Department will, effective Monday, consolidate into one new agency the organizations that account for U.S. military prisoners of war and those missing in action. Hagel called for a review early last year to bring together the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, the Joint Personnel Accounting...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>