NGAUS Washington Report
(Nov. 12, 2013) President Barack Obama commemorated Veterans Day Monday at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., calling the holiday a reminder of the nation's "sacred obligation" to those who have "fought for our freedom and stood sentry for our security" throughout America's history.
The United States must never forget those who have stood apart, volunteering their service and putting their lives on the line "so the rest of us might live in a country and a world that is safer, freer and more just," he said.
"This is the gift they have given us," the president said. "This is the debt that we owe them."
Speaking to hundreds of veterans, including 107-year-old World War II veteran Richard Overton, Obama said this commitment is particularly important as forces in Afghanistan return home from the nation's longest war.
"On tour after tour after tour in Iraq and Afghanistan ... the 9/11 generation has met every mission we have asked of them," Obama said. "And today, we can say that because of their heroic service, the core of al-Qaida is on the path to defeat, our nation is more secure and our homeland is safer."
He emphasized the importance of ensuring the service and sacrifice that made this possible isn't forgotten after the mission is complete. "Even though this time of war is coming to a close, our time of service to our newest veterans has only just begun," he said.
"So when we talk about fulfilling our promises to our veterans, we don't just mean for a few years," he said. "We mean now, tomorrow and forever. And not just for generations past, but for this generation of veterans and all who will follow."
Obama laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at 11 a.m., the exact time the original armistice was declared on Nov. 11, 1918, marking the end of World War I, before his comments in the Arlington National Cemetery amphitheater.