President Biden delivers Memorial Day address at 156th National Memorial Day Observance

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Monday, May 27, 2024
President Biden marks Memorial Day at Arlington National Ceremony
President Biden marked Memorial Day at Arlington National Ceremony on Monday.

ARLINGTON, Va. -- In observance of Memorial Day, hundreds gathered at the Arlington National Cemetery to pay their respects to those who fought for the United States.

The ceremony began with the traditional wreath laying. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

For Biden, it marking a solemn occasion that is personal for the commander in chief.

United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who served more than four decades, was among the speakers at the 156th National Memorial Day Observance.

During Biden's remarks, he acknowledged how difficult it is to lose a child. The president said this week marked nine years since he lost his son Beau Biden to brain cancer.

President Biden memorializes his son, Beau, during a Memorial Day address at Arlington National Cemetery.

The ceremony continued as hundreds waved American Flags during an interpretation of "God Bless America."

The president on Monday morning also hosted a breakfast in honor of Memorial Day with administration officials, military leadership, veterans and Gold Star family members.

The day is also personal for the president - Biden has frequently drawn on the death of his son, Beau Biden, from brain cancer that he believes was linked to the toxic burn pits Beau Biden was exposed to during his tour in Iraq. Thursday will mark the ninth anniversary of Beau Biden's death.

In a personal and political win in 2022, Biden signed the bipartisan PACT Act, which expanded health care benefits to millions of veterans who were exposed to burn pits, which were used to burn waste - including trash, munitions, hazardous material and chemical compounds - at military sites throughout Iraq and Afghanistan until about 2010. These massive open-air burn pits often operated at or near military bases and released dangerous toxins into the air that, upon exposure, may have caused short- and long-term health conditions, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The president's remarks come just two days after he delivered the commencement address at West Point, where he pointed to the United States' role "as the indispensable nation, the world's only superpower, and the leading democracy in the world."

"From the very beginning, nothing is guaranteed about our democracy in America," Biden told the graduating cadets. "Every generation has an obligation to defend it, to protect it, to preserve it, to choose it. Now, it's your turn."

It also comes as Biden prepares to travel to Normandy, France, in two weeks, where he's slated to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

The speech comes at the beginning of what is expected to be a busy period of campaigning ahead of the November election.

Biden's opponent in that race, former President Donald Trump, marked Memorial Day in a Truth Social post in which he attacked E. Jean Carroll and the judges who have presided over his defamation, civil fraud and criminal hush money trials.

"Happy Memorial Day to All, including the Human Scum that is working so hard to destroy our Once Great Country," Trump said in the lengthy social media rant.

The annual event is free and open to the public, according to the website.

CNNW contributed to this post.