Obama leads country in celebrating Memorial Day

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 26, 2014 at 5:53 pm •  Published: May 26, 2014
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The Arlington remembrance was duplicated in villages, towns, cities and counties across the country. There was a holiday weekend reunion of some of the last surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen in upstate New York. More than 3,000 volunteers placed flags at the graves of 120,000 veterans at the Florida National Cemetery. And in Mississippi, the annual Vicksburg Memorial Day parade was being accompanied by a wreath-laying ceremony at Vicksburg National Cemetery.

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Brian McNeal, who is stationed at Suffolk, Virginia, joined those attending Fleet Week in New York City. "They made the sacrifice so everyday citizens don't have to worry about the evils of the world," he said.

At Arlington, Obama was joined by first lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, at the solemn ceremony across the Potomac River from White House on the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. The remembrance was for the war heroes of yesteryear as well as servicemen and women stationed around the world. It was carried out in idyllic weather under cloudless skies and a brilliant sunshine. The national observance was to be matched by parades, picnics and speeches across the country.

Obama appeared at the cemetery's amphitheater to speak after carrying out the traditional presidential wreath-laying, surrounded there by troops in formal dress and hearing the playing of Taps.

Preceding Obama to the microphone, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, himself a military veteran, noted this year's remembrance came with the approaching 70th anniversary of America's D-Day landing in Normandy, France. And Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said "America's sons and daughters are still out there today on the frontiers of our common defense."