USA — Obama: Live Lives Worthy of Fallen Warriors’ Sacrifices

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2010 — Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma called on the nation dur­ing a Memo­r­i­al Day address at Joint Base Andrews, Md., to hon­or the lega­cy of its fall­en war­riors and to live lives wor­thy of their sac­ri­fices.

“At its core, the nobil­i­ty and majesty of Memo­r­i­al Day can be found in the sto­ry of ordi­nary Amer­i­cans who became extra­or­di­nary for the most sim­ple of rea­sons: they loved their coun­try so deeply, so pro­found­ly, that they were will­ing to give their very lives to keep it safe and free,” Oba­ma told an assem­bly of sev­er­al dozen ser­vice­mem­bers today after land­ing in Wash­ing­ton from a week­end in Chica­go.

He ini­tial­ly had been slat­ed to deliv­er his address at the Abra­ham Lin­coln Nation­al Ceme­tery in Illi­nois, but tor­ren­tial rains and light­ning can­celled that event. Instead, he vis­it­ed wound­ed vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies receiv­ing care at the Hines Vet­er­ans Affairs Hos­pi­tal near Chica­go.

Oba­ma not­ed dur­ing his address at Andrews tonight the fall­en war­riors’ shared belief in their coun­try through­out its his­to­ry, and will­ing­ness to sac­ri­fice lives of com­fort, and ulti­mate­ly, life itself, to pro­tect its ideals.

“They answered their country’s call. They stepped for­ward. They raised their hand. They took an oath,” he said.

As they served their coun­try in uni­form through­out its his­to­ry, they left their loved ones when duty called. In doing so, they lib­er­at­ed coun­tries, end­ed the Holo­caust, rid towns of insur­gents and saved vil­lages from the ter­ror of vio­lent extrem­ists, he not­ed.

They fought for free­dom and the flag, the pres­i­dent said. But they also fought for each oth­er, to bring their bud­dies home and keep their fam­i­lies safe. “And that is what they did, to their last breath,” he said.

“This is what we hon­or today — the lives they led, the ser­vice they ren­dered, the sac­ri­fice they made — for us,” he said.

“In this time of war, we pay spe­cial trib­ute to the thou­sands of Amer­i­cans who have giv­en their lives dur­ing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and who have earned their place among the great­est of gen­er­a­tions,” he said. “And though our hearts ache in their absence, we find com­fort in know­ing that their lega­cy shines bright in the peo­ple they loved: America’s Gold Star fam­i­lies.”

The lega­cy of America’s fall­en lives on, the pres­i­dent said.

It lives through their par­ents who instilled the val­ues and virtues that led them to ser­vice. It lives through their spous­es who gave the nation the per­son they cher­ished most. It lives through their chil­dren, whose par­ents gave their lives so they could live theirs. And it lives through those who fought along­side them – vet­er­ans and troops still serv­ing in harm’s way.

“Just as you keep alive the mem­o­ry of your fall­en friends, Amer­i­ca must keep its com­mit­ments to you,” Oba­ma told the ser­vice­mem­bers. “That means pro­vid­ing the sup­port our troops and fam­i­lies need, and the health care and ben­e­fits our vet­er­ans deserve. This is our sacred trust to all who serve, and uphold­ing that trust is our moral oblig­a­tion.”

Oba­ma called on all Amer­i­cans to live lives wor­thy of the sac­ri­fices its fall­en heroes have made, and that the country’s men and women in uni­form con­tin­ue to make every day.

“The lega­cy of these fall­en heroes lives on in each of us,” he said. “The secu­ri­ty that lets us live in peace, the pros­per­i­ty that allows us to pur­sue our dreams, the free­doms that we cher­ish — these were earned by the blood and sac­ri­fice of patri­ots who went before.

“Now it falls to us to pre­serve this inher­i­tance for all who fol­low.”

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