USA — Leaders Salute Fallen Troops at Arlington National Cemetery

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2010 — Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden today hailed the unselfish ser­vice and sac­ri­fices of past and present gen­er­a­tions of U.S. ser­vice­mem­bers dur­ing the annu­al Memo­r­i­al Day obser­vance held at Arling­ton Nation­al Ceme­tery.

“Col­lec­tive­ly, the gen­er­a­tion of sol­diers, sailors, air­men and Marines who have served and sac­ri­ficed for us are the heart and soul, and I would say, spine, of this nation,” Biden said. “And as a nation, we pause today to remem­ber them; they gave their lives ful­fill­ing their oath to this nation and to us. “And in doing so,” he con­tin­ued, “they impart­ed a respon­si­bil­i­ty on us to rec­og­nize, to respect, to hon­or and to care for those who risked their lives so that we can live our lives.” 

Biden, the keynote speak­er at the obser­vance held in the cemetery’s Memo­r­i­al Amphithe­ater, was joined by Deputy Defense Sec­re­tary William J. Lynn III and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

The vice pres­i­dent pre­vi­ous­ly laid a cer­e­mo­ni­al wreath at the cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknowns, which con­tains the remains of uniden­ti­fied sol­diers from World War I, World War II and the Kore­an War. More than 300,000 peo­ple rest in peace at Arling­ton, includ­ing vet­er­ans from all of the nation’s wars – from the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion through Iraq and Afghanistan. Biden said he’d met with a group of Gold Star Moth­ers at the White House ear­li­er today. Gold Star Moth­ers is an orga­ni­za­tion of moth­ers who’ve lost a son or a daugh­ter in mil­i­tary ser­vice to the country. 

The Gold Star fam­i­lies “know all too well the price of their loved ones’ patri­o­tism,” Biden said. “None,” he said, “should be asked to sac­ri­fice that much.” 

Biden observed that many peo­ple in the amphithe­ater pos­si­bly were await­ing the return of loved ones deployed over­seas in harm’s way. Oth­ers, he added, may have wait­ed in vain. “To those who have lost a loved one in the ser­vice of our nation, I recall a famous head­stone in Ire­land,” Biden said. “And the head­stone reads as fol­lows: ‘Death Leaves a Heartache No One Can Heal; Love Leaves a Mem­o­ry No One Can Steal.’ 

“No one can steal the mem­o­ry from you,” Biden con­tin­ued. And the pain and heartache now felt by the sur­vivors of depart­ed mil­i­tary mem­bers, he said, even­tu­al­ly will “be replaced by the joy­ful mem­o­ry of the son or daugh­ter, hus­band, wife, father, moth­er that you loved so dear­ly, and lost.” 

Memo­r­i­al Day “is a day in which sor­row mix­es with incred­i­ble pride,” Biden said. “We mourn those we’ve lost and we hold fast to their mem­o­ries and we take pride – great pride – in the lives they’ve lived and the ser­vice they’ve provided.” 

Amer­i­can ser­vice­mem­bers who serve and sac­ri­fice on far-flung bat­tle­fields are moti­vat­ed by love – not hate, Biden said. “Love is why we’re here today,” he said, “to show our love for the men and women who died show­ing their love for this great coun­try and [to] hon­or their fam­i­lies who share that love even more deeply.” 

Biden won­dered aloud what pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions of U.S. ser­vice­mem­bers might think of today’s world that’s been made small­er — and some­times more tur­bu­lent — by glob­al­iza­tion. “And as the world around us shrinks it means trou­ble halfway around the world can – and will – vis­it us, no mat­ter how high our walls or how wide our oceans,” Biden said. “Our men and women in uni­form know full well that the promise and the per­il of this time have nev­er been greater; the threats to Amer­i­can secu­ri­ty are more wide­spread, geo­graph­i­cal­ly, than ever before.” Cur­rent threats to Amer­i­ca, Biden said, include the spread of weapons of mass destruc­tion and dan­ger­ous dis­ease, eco­nom­ic dis­lo­ca­tions, a grow­ing gap between the rich and poor, eth­nic ani­mosi­ties in failed states and rad­i­cal fundamentalism. 

Today’s gen­er­a­tion of U.S. ser­vice­men and women now “stands watch, pro­tect­ing America’s inter­ests against all of these new threats,” Biden said, “and it will take — and it has tak­en — equal­ly great sac­ri­fice as those who have gone before them.” 

Amer­i­ca has lost 4,391 ser­vice­mem­bers in Oper­a­tion Iraqi Free­dom and dur­ing fol­low-on oper­a­tions in Iraq, Biden said, and 1,074 troops have died in Oper­a­tion Endur­ing Free­dom and fol­low-on oper­a­tions in Afghanistan. 

These depart­ed ser­vice­mem­bers “were the best of us; they were our blood … and trea­sure,” Biden said. Amer­i­can force of arms, he said, has pro­tect­ed America’s free­doms and way of life since the nation was estab­lished. That will not change, he said. 

And, as the con­flicts in Iraq and Afghanistan con­tin­ue, the U.S. gov­ern­ment, Biden said, has “a sacred oblig­a­tion to pro­vide these war­riors with every­thing they need to com­plete their mis­sion, and every­thing they need – and I might add, deserve – when they come home.” 

Today’s ser­vice­mem­bers, as were their pre­de­ces­sors, are “bright, edu­cat­ed and com­mit­ted,” Biden said. And the source of America’s ulti­mate strength, he said, emanates from its values. 

“In uphold­ing our val­ues, we’re made stronger,” Biden said, not­ing rad­i­cal fun­da­men­tal­ists want “to change what we val­ue, to change how we live our lives, to change what it means to be an American.” 

How­ev­er, Amer­i­ca is defend­ed by “the finest mil­i­tary the world has ever pro­duced — peri­od,” Biden said. And, America’s ser­vice­mem­bers at rest at Arling­ton and else­where, he said, have fought and sac­ri­ficed for their fel­low countrymen. 

“They lived with integri­ty; they served nobly; they gave every­thing,” Biden said. “They fought for what they believed in and maybe most impor­tant­ly, they believed in some­thing big­ger than themselves. 

“They believed in all of you, they believed in all of us and they believed in Amer­i­ca,” the vice pres­i­dent said. “So on this day, this solemn day, let us strive once again to be indi­vid­u­als in a nation wor­thy of that belief.” 

Lynn’s and Mullen’s remarks pre­ced­ed Biden’s.

“We gath­er today to hon­or our fall­en in a sacred place,” Lynn said. “Arling­ton Ceme­tery stands as one of our nation’s great­est sym­bols of the sac­ri­fices made for our free­dom and our way of life. We have car­ried our fall­en heroes to these fields for 146 years.” 

Arlington’s “rows of mar­ble head­stones,” Lynn con­tin­ued, “are a tes­ta­ment to how one gen­er­a­tion defends the next; to how our nation is built upon unimag­in­able hero­ism and sac­ri­fice; and to how these sac­ri­fices stretch from our fore­fa­thers to the present day.” 

Less vis­i­ble at Arling­ton, he said, are the sac­ri­fices made by the sur­viv­ing loved ones of depart­ed servicemembers.

“For every fall­en hero laid to rest there is a moth­er and father who will not see their child through life’s mile­stones,” Lynn said. “For most, there is a spouse who must live with­out the spouse they chose. And for many there is a child who will not have a par­ent to guide them.” 

The sac­ri­fices of war, Lynn said, rip­ple out­ward like water splashed by a stone. “So today we hon­or not only those who made the ulti­mate sac­ri­fice; we hon­or all those who have shared the loss,” he said. 

Ser­vice­mem­bers who’ve fall­en in Iraq or Afghanistan are laid to rest at Arling­ton in Sec­tion 60. The peo­ple buried there rep­re­sent every race and creed, Lynn observed, not­ing the head­stones bear sym­bols of sev­er­al religions. 

“Their graves are topped by the cross, the cres­cent moon and star, [and] the Star of David,” he said. 

Arlington’s fall­en ser­vice­mem­bers “reflect the more per­fect union they died to defend,” Lynn said. “In Arling­ton – like nowhere else – we can see free­dom blos­som and know its price.” 

Mullen echoed Lynn’s sentiments. 

“Every year since Civ­il War recon­struc­tion Amer­i­cans have set aside this day to pay trib­ute to ser­vice and to sac­ri­fice,” Mullen said. “No place, more than Arling­ton, reminds me of what we owe them and their fam­i­lies for what they have giv­en to us.” 

Around the globe — on the land, on the sea and in the sky — gen­er­a­tions of young Amer­i­cans “have fought for each oth­er, fought for their fam­i­lies and fought for us,” the admi­ral said. “Now they peace­ful­ly rest in ceme­ter­ies, unmarked bat­tle­field graves and in the deep­est oceans around the world.” 

Each servicemember’s gravesite “enshrines a unique sto­ry and we remem­ber the sac­ri­fice, the human­i­ty and the ser­vice each name rep­re­sents,” the admi­ral said. 

Mullen recalled that the famous World War II cor­re­spon­dent Ernie Pyle would often come upon let­ters from home, blank writ­ing paper, pho­tographs and oth­er per­son­al items belong­ing to ser­vice­mem­bers that were killed in action. 

“I believe each sto­ry, each let­ter, each item they’d car­ried sends a pow­er­ful mes­sage,” Mullen said. “It’s not about how they died, but how they lived and what they cared for.” Times have changed, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are dif­fer­ent than past con­flicts, the admi­ral said, not­ing today’s troops may car­ry few­er phys­i­cal keep­sakes than their fore­bears did. 

“But they will always car­ry and cher­ish the love of their fam­i­ly, the respect of their fel­low cit­i­zens and an abid­ing hope for a safe return,” he said. 

The admi­ral recalled what an Army cor­po­ral had writ­ten to his fam­i­ly in his final let­ter before he was killed in Afghanistan. 

Mullen said the cor­po­ral wrote: “ ‘Know that you all are the rea­son that I am here and to give my life for that is noth­ing to me.’ ” 

At Arling­ton, “cen­turies guard the sto­ries of those who gave their lives; those who will­ing­ly sac­ri­ficed all that they car­ry,” Mullen said. “And such sto­ries of courage, love and hope will be our con­tin­u­ous renew­al, as grass comes through the fresh­ly turned soil of Sec­tion 60. 

“Our trea­sured keep­sakes will be the lives we cel­e­brate, every Memo­r­i­al Day and every day of the year,” the admi­ral said. 

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefence.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →