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Memorial Day Remarks at Arlington Cemetery

As Delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn, III, Arlington Cemetery, Monday, May 31, 2010

 
We gather today to honor our fallen in a sacred place.

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. 

The rows of marble headstones 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 here, but equally a part of Memorial Day, is the sacrifice made by the families of those we have lost.

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

Like water splashed by stone, the sacrifices of war ripple outward. 

So today, we honor not only those who made the ultimate sacrifice.  We honor all those who have shared the loss.

Even as we acknowledge the suffering that war has brought, we affirm the sacred commitment our nation has made to perpetuate its ideals.

Lincoln, at Gettysburg, asked whether a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, can long endure.

The answer is all around us.

From the former slaves buried here, to the soldiers from the Civil War, to the children of European immigrants who twice freed Europe, to our brothers who fought and died in Korea and Vietnam, these grounds record not only that freedom and liberty have endured, but that they have flourished.

Those who sleep in Arlington’s newest section are from every race and of every creed.  Their graves are topped by the cross, the crescent moon and star, the Star of David. 

To walk from Lee’s mansion to Arlington’s freshly-dug graves is to see in these grounds an important truth take root. 

That truth is this: Our fallen who lie here themselves reflect the more perfect union they died to defend.

In Arlington, like nowhere else, we can see freedom blossom, and know its price.

It is now my privilege to introduce our next speaker.  But first I want to say a note of gratitude to his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, who is doing so much to help our military families.

Ladies and gentleman, it is my honor and privilege to introduce a man who knows both service and sacrifice, the Vice-President of the United States.

 


 

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