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In Memorial Day remarks, Biden honors troops who 'gave all' to protect democracy

President Joe Biden speaks at the Memorial Amphitheater of Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., on Memorial Day on Monday.
Susan Walsh
President Joe Biden speaks at the Memorial Amphitheater of Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., on Memorial Day on Monday.

President Biden honored fallen soldiers for the 155th ceremony of Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, D.C., on Monday.

The president was joined by Vice President Harris, first lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Douglas Emhoff, as well as some members of the president's cabinet.

"Every year, as a nation, we undertake this rite of remembrance, for we must never forget the price that was paid to protect our democracy. We must never forget the lives these flags, flowers and marble markers represent: a mother, a father, a son, a daughter, a sister, a spouse, a friend. An American," Biden said. "Every year, we remember. And every year, it never gets easier."

Biden spoke of the personal experience of losing his son, Beau Biden, who died eight years ago on Tuesday. The younger Biden was deployed as a major in the National Guard in Iraq and died of cancer.

"As it is for so many of you, the pain of his loss is with us every day, but particularly sharp on Memorial Day. It's still clear," the president said. "But so is the pride Jill and I feel in his service."

Biden also noted that this year marks significant anniversaries for the armed forces.

"For our democracy is our strength, the wellspring of possibilities, and the source of endless, endless renewal. It's how we've been able to constantly change and adapt through the centuries. ... It's a truth we celebrate this year as we mark 75 years of a desegregated military, 75 years of women's full integration, 50 years of an all-volunteer force," he said.

"We're the only nation in the world built on an idea that we're all created equal. We haven't always lived up to it, but we've never walked away from it. And today, standing together to honor those Americans who dared all and gave all for our nation, we can say clearly: We never will," Biden said.

Biden gave his remarks in Arlington just one day after negotiating a deal over the debt ceiling with Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Speaking with reporters on Monday, Biden maintained that the bill is a "bipartisan deal" and said it would pass by June 5, the estimated date of when the the country would run out of money to pay its bills.

"There is no reason it shouldn't get done by the 5th. I'm confident that we'll get a vote in both Houses, and we'll see," Biden said.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Deepa Shivaram
Deepa Shivaram is a multi-platform political reporter on NPR's Washington Desk.
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