President Barack Obama on Saturday urged Americans to commemorate the Memorial Day weekend by honoring U.S. soldiers who have died in the nation’s wars.
“They gave America the most precious thing they had — ‘the last full measure of devotion,’” Obama said in his weekly Internet and radio address, citing a passage from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. “And because they did, we are who we are today — a free and prosperous nation, the greatest in the world.”
Obama noted that because only roughly 1 percent of Americans “bear the burden of defense,” the service and sacrifice of soldiers isn’t always readily apparent.
“They don’t serve for our admiration, or even our gratitude. They risk their lives, and many give their lives, for something larger than themselves or any of us: the ideals of liberty and justice that make America a beacon of hope for the world,” he said.
Obama’s speech sets the stage for Memorial Day on Monday, a federal holiday honoring the men and women who have died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
On Monday, Obama plans to travel to Arlington National Cemetery to deliver remarks and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The Saturday speech concluded a week in which Obama discussed national security and terrorism on several occasions.
On Thursday, Obama said he would give the U.S. military a larger role in using drone strikes to attack terrorists, shifting that responsibility from the Central Intelligence Agency, and lift a moratorium on moving prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to other countries.
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