tv Pres. Biden Delivers Remarks at Arlington National Cemetery CSPAN November 14, 2021 7:05pm-8:01pm EST
the department of veterans affairs. >> let us pray. almighty and loving god, we come before you this day to honor our nation's veterans. those men and women who have bravely given of the cells -- themselves. throughout our nations history, you god created our nations veterans with unique if, abilities, talents, and values which would guide them to a unified calling and mission, the defense of our nation's freedoms. we are ever so grateful for those men and women who sacrificially chose to leave the comforts of family, friends,
home, and security to use their god-given gifts and abilities for the most noble mission of the preservation of our nation. our nations veterans have faced horrific challenges on land, sea, and air. you, as our omnipresent god have strengthened and upheld our service members and veterans through their darkest hours. you are the god who sees. who sees and understands each of us. though humanly, we do not know the names and diverse characteristics of all who have served, you know. as the inscription on the tomb reminds us, here rest and
honored glory an american soldier known but to god. thank you for uniquely designing each of us. for knowing each of us and for your everlasting care. as we honor our nations veterans , may you god continually equip each of us to give up ourselves in a purposeful mission and calling which seeks to uphold and honor the well-being of our nation. in your holy name we pray, amen. announcer: now, i would like to invite the national commander jewish war veterans of the united states of america to lead us in our pledge of allegiance.
>> i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands one nation under god indivisible with liberty and justice for all. announcer: please be seated. it is now my distinct privilege to introduce the members of the veterans day national committee located in box seats drop amphitheater. the committee was formed by presidential order in 1954 to plan this annual observance in honor of america's veterans and to support veterans day observances throughout the nation. please hold your applause until i have introduced the special guest. if you are able, please stand when your name is called.
>> sergeant major johnny baker, my burying corley. brigadier general, national president my military chaplains association. retired marine corps corporal charles brown. national president, paralyzed veterans of america. retired marine corps, lieutenant colonel jack murray, national commander, legion of valor of the united states of america. commander-in-chief, military order of the world wars.
national president, the retired enlisted association. >> medal of honor society. national commander disabled american veterans. president and chief executive officer military officers association of america. u.s. public health service commander. chair, board of directors, commissioned officers association of the united states public health service. international president, air force surgeons association.
national commander, polish legion of american veterans. national president, korean war veterans association. national commander, american g.i. forum. national commander, catholic war veterans of the united states. national president, blinded veterans association. the associate members of the committee are also located in seats throughout the amphitheater. i would like to ask the presidents and national commanders that comprise our associate membership to stand and be recognized. ladies and gentlemen, please join me in recognizing our
veterans national leadership with your applause. [applause] announcer: it is now my pleasure to introduce the executive director, office of army national cemeteries and army national cemeteries miss karen durham maggie loera. >> on behalf of the dedicated men and women who serve here, welcome to arlington national cemetery. i would like to extend a warm welcome to the 46th president of the united states, president joe biden. thank you, mr. president for being here today. and our first lady, jill biden, welcome. the honorable lloyd austin. dennis mcdonough and his wife.
the secretary of the army. chief of staff joined the kumble. -- joe mcconville. the national commander of the jewish war veterans. thank you. for being a veteran service organizations host and your participation in this important national observance. all dignitaries and families and everyone watching from across our great nation, thank you for being with us today. the cemetery is beautiful this time of year. it is fitting that we once again recognize our veterans on these hallowed grounds. today is a celebration of honor, duty, patriotism. arlington national cemetery is a solemn place surrounded by over 400,000 soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, coast guard meant, and their families who have proudly served our nation.
while memorial day is dedicated to remembering those who we have lost, today is the celebration of all of those who worn the uniform including and especially those who are still with us. i encourage each and everyone of you to pause for a moment today and thank a veteran or military family member for their service and sacrifice. today may be solemn, but it can also be joyous as we remember loved ones, friends, comrades who have served and may still be serving. i will also briefly talk about a historic event that concludes today with this observance. for the last year, we have held events to commemorate the centennial of the tomb of the unknown soldier. it the interment of the unknown. 100 years ago today, that servicemember completed his final journey from france and was laid to rest here at the heart of arlington national cemetery to represent all service members who had lost
their lives and their identities . we did so to provide comfort and closure those family members who were never given the opportunity to lay to rest their child, husband, or father. more of the history of the tomb of the unknown soldier can be found in our educational programs online. stories of the service and sacrifice we celebrate today are etched in marble all around us. from the inscriptions on gravestones, to the tomb of the unknown soldier. most important are the patriotism, valor, and fidelity etched in the hearts and souls of our service members past, present, and future. they are the vanguard of our freedom and liberty. today is for the past 157 years. arlington national cemetery is honored to serve our veterans and their families and our nation's most sacred shrine.
no place here can be purchased. to everyone here today, i am proud to say we are a great people honoring service and sacrifice to a grateful nation. thank you to all of our veterans and families and once again, welcome arlington national cemetery. i will be followed by the national commander of the jewish war veterans. thank you. [applause] >> president biden, secretary mcdonough, director aguilera, distinguished guests. my fellow veterans, ladies and gentlemen. on veterans day at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, we pause for a few reef
moments to honor and pay tribute. he said the willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any way shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation. let us remember treated and appreciated. engraved on the korean war memorial is a symbol but powerful phrase, freedom is not free. the freedoms we enjoy today were made possible by the more than 19 million living veterans and countless others who served in the defense of our country. the symbols of america and freedom are interlocked. they are present here today. the flags flying, the white
grave markers, and all of us, the veterans and service members who protected our nation. it is you that we celebrate and honor today. our work continues as citizens in supporting america's veterans and service members. we must continue to fight for american -- adequate funding for veterans and ensure that issues remain at the forefront. i call on each of you to take action and make your voice heard on issues we continue to face including ending homelessness, increasing access to health care, delivering mental health care, reducing claims processing times, the point integrated electronic health records, and addressing toxic exposure concerns in a comprehensive way. seated throughout the amphitheater this morning are
the leaders of many veteran service organizations. every bso was created with the purpose to advocate for the unique needs of the veteran community. vso's understand and work tirelessly to improve the benefits we earned. there is strength in numbers and veterans must continue to be strong advocates and have our voices heard. when the jewish war veterans celebrated its 100th anniversary, our national commander also addressed this gathering. his closing remarks that day are just as powerful today as they were in 1996. he said never should our government presume that by setting aside but one day, they have met their obligation to the survivors of yesterday's wars and today's or tomorrow's conflict. we welcome your thoughts that
this is not merely a single day of honor, but a public recognition of obligation to service. we welcome your concerns that such obligation must be met with condition -- compassion and resolve. i stand before you as a veteran myself. as we honor, celebrate, and share thanks, we must remain vigilant. and continue to ensure that the freedoms, benefits, and services we enjoy today remain with us for centuries to come. may god bless those who have earned the title of veteran and may god bless the united states of america. thank you. [applause] it gives me great pleasure to introduce the 11th secretary of veterans affairs. before coming to the v.a., he
served as the 26th white house chief of staff. working across the cabinet to develop and execute critical u.s. priorities and national security and domestic policy. before his tenure as chief of staff served as principal deputy national security advisor, chief of staff of the national security staff, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, and chair of the national security council's deputies committee. in all of those roles, he helped lead the administration on behalf of veterans and military families. he believes deeply as he testified to congress that there is no more sacred obligation, more noble undertaking, then to uphold our promises to our veterans whether they came home decades ago four days ago. join me in welcoming secretary of veterans affairs dennis mcdonough. [applause]
>> thank you for that generous introduction and for your service to our country and for leading today's fantastic organization, jewish war veterans of the united states america. mr. president, welcome. my deepest thanks to you and the first lady for being here. we are forever grateful for your leadership, your unwavering support of our nation's veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors. let me also knowledge the distinguished leaders from the cabinet, congress, v.a., veteran service organizations, veteran family, and caregiver advocate organizations and our veterans day committee. it is great to be here with you. most of all, thanks to the veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors with us morning.
this day is your day. it is an honor to spend it with you. each year, america pauses on november 11 two remember and recognize those men and women who fought our nations wars and offended us during times of restless peace. from the beginning of our fight for independence at lexington and concord to the end of the longest war in american history in afghanistan, millions of veterans have risked their lives to preserve the democratic ideals of this great nation. we live in peace and prosperity today because of them. because of you. on this day, we must not only appreciate those great blessings and the veterans who delivered them, we must also remember the terrible cost at which they
came. veterans have told us of costs of war throughout history. letters home from world war ii by one described his experience on d-day writing i never in my wildest dreams new such terror could grip your very soul. one senator, a patriot, hero of the war in vietnam and a father of the modern v.a. who passed away earlier this week echoed that sentiment writing war is as close to hell on earth as anything ever could be. sentiments like these have been expressed by veterans everywhere. those who bore the battle of the
civil war, the frozen mountains of korea, the jungles of vietnam, the cities, deserts, mountains of iraq and afghanistan. many service members gave their first and last measure of devotion during those worst. some now rest on the hallowed grounds of this ceremony or in the tomb of the unknown soldier. other brave service members come home is veterans. for those veterans, the war did not end when the final brawl -- bullet was fired. those wars live on. in their minds, their bodies, and scars visible and invisible. sometimes for years, sometimes forever. this day, veterans day, is our
day to honor the veterans who made the sacrifices. a day to remember what they have done for us and a day to recognize that when those veterans serve and sacrifice, so to their families, their caregivers, their survivors. critically, veterans day is also a call to action. a reminder that it is our sacred responsibility as americans to serve those who have served our country. that call to action dates back to president lincoln's second inaugural. when he charged a wounded nation to care for those who should have borne the battle and to the families, survivors, and caregivers. that same call echoes today and president biden reminds us that our nation's most sacred obligation is to prepare and equip soldiers we sent into harm's way and to care for them and their families when they return home. at the v.a., that means we are
preparing and providing world-class health care, with rights they so rightly deserve, and with a lasting resting place as a tribute to their service. with president biden's leadership, the v.a. is doing exactly that. providing more care, benefits to more veterans than at any time in our nations history. this day reminds us it is not just the job of v.a. to serve the veterans, survivors, and caregivers, it is the job of every american. whenever someone signs up to honor our country, our nation makes them simple promise. if you take care of us, we will take care of you. if you fight for us, we will fight for you. if you serve us, we will serve you when you come home. our nation makes that promise.
it is on all of us, every one of us to keep that promise. there are many ways to do that. from reaching out to the veterans in your life to lending a hand when a veteran needs help to doing your small part to uphold the principles of democracy for which veterans have fought and bled to defend. whatever the method. serve veterans and serve them well. remember there serve -- sacrifice. recognize their service and recommit and renew your pledge to them because that is our most sacred responsibility as americans on this veterans day and every day. i know of no one who keeps that promise better than president biden.
as a senator, vice president, and now as president. as a surviving father of an iraq war veteran, president biden has dedicated so much of his life to serving those who have served us. veterans, their families, survivors and caregivers could not ask for a stronger advocate. without further ado, it is my great personal and professional honor to present to you our commander-in-chief, the president of the united states of america, joe biden. [applause] pres. biden: thank you. [applause] thank you, mr. secretary.
being president of the united states, you are afforded many opportunities to try to express your love, commitment, and admiration for the american people. i must say to you that the single greatest honor i have been afforded as president is to stand before so many of you, the medal of honor winners out there to talk about veterans day and veterans. i want to welcome all of the cabinet members and honored guests joining us today including the father of our secretary of state who served in the army air corps during world war ii.
whose birthday is today. happy birthday. [applause] thank you for your service to our country. i want to tell you, i know you are a little younger than i am, but i have adopted the attitude of a patron who went on to become a great picture -- pit cher named satchel paige. on his 47th birthday, he pitched a win against chicago. all the press went in and said it's amazing, 47 years old, no one has ever pitched a win at
age 47. how do you feel about being 47? he said that's not how i look at it. i look at it this way. how old would you be if you didn't know how old you were? i'm 50 years old and the ambassador is 47. all kidding aside, thank you for your service during world war ii as well as your service as an ambassador. thank you for raising such a finethank you for raising such a fine man, our secretary of state. to the veterans, we thank you, honor you, and remember always what you have done for us. i would like to recognize mr. brian packer. during vietnam, then lieutenant
packer put the safety of his fellow troops above his own, even calling in an artillery fire so our forces had a better chance to withdraw. wounded, he evaded capture for eight days until friendly forces retook the position. it is a remarkable story. we will also never forget the stories of american eaters and icons who have shaped our nation in ways that are hard to measure. i have lost three good friends in the last month -- general colin powell, child of immigrants who grew up to be secretary of state, a man who
was a friend but who earned the universal respect of americans for his leadership in uniform and a guy who became good friends many times i was in and out of iraq, general ray or dinero. he did so much to get us where we are today. it was an honor that my son served under his command. and my friend and colleague max cleveland was a triple amputee. he knew the cost of war as well as anyone. he went on to champion the dignity and care of veterans. we lost all three of these veterans in the last several
weeks. these are stories that inspired generations of americans to step forward to defend our nation. today, we pay homage to the bravery and dedication that distinguishes all of those who have earned the title of veteran. it is an honor not only eight small percentage of americans can claim, but it is a badge of courage that unites across all ages, regardless of background. to be a veteran is to have endured and survived challenges most will never know. you have braved dangers and deprivations, faced down tragic realities. you have done it for us, for america.
to defend and serve american values, to protect our country and constitution against all enemies, to lay a strong foundation on which future generations can continue to build a more perfect union. each of our veterans is a link in a proud chain that has stood for the defense of our country, from gettysburg to iwo jima. each understood the price of freedom and shouldered that burden on our behalf. our veterans represent the best of america. you are the spine of america. all of us owe you. on veterans day, and every day
we honor that great that and recommit ourselves to giving our sacred obligation as a nation, we honor what you have done. we have many obligations. i would have gotten in trouble when i was a young senator for saying we only have one truly sacred obligation -- to properly prepare and equip those we send into harm's way and care for the and their families while they are deployed and when they return home. this is a lifetime sacred commitment. it never expires. for me, for joe, for the entire family, it is personal.
when both -- beau was deployed to iraq, after spending six months in kosovo trying to set up a criminal justice system, eight got a call from him one day. he said, dead, what are you doing friday? he said, i would like you to pin my bars on. someone has got to finish these words, dad. jill and i learned what it meant to pray every day for the safe return of someone you love. our grandkids learned what it meant to have their data overseas instead of tucking them in every night. tense of thousands of americans have had that experience.
as john milton wrote, they also serve while we stand and wait. all the mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, spouses, all those who stand alongside veterans and their families, caregivers, survivors, and you are the solid steel spine under every burden. the courageous heart that rises to every challenge. we have asked so much you for so long. our nation is grateful. for two decades, the lives of our service members have been shaped by the conflicts in iraq and afghanistan. since 9/11, hundreds of thousands have served.
so many are still serving today in harms way. the american people are forever grateful and in all of -- in awe of what you have accomplished, but so many veterans have been through hell. some facing deployment after deployment, spending months and years away from their families. one of the last times i flew into iraq, in the silver bullet, i remember walking up to the cockpit. the crew masters were up there. i said for help many of you is this your first tour? no one raised their hand. second tour, one raised their hand. third tour, two raised their hand.
fifth, one raised their hand. on veterans day, we have to remember there is nothing a low risk or low cost about war to the men and women who fight it. i carry in my pocket might check with the defense department. in the back of my schedule, i have u.s. daily trips killed and -- troops killed and wounded. 52,323, not roughly 53,000. everyone of these individuals has a family at home. 53,323 wounded in iraq and
afghanistan. 7074 gave their lives and last full measure of devotion. i am told thousands more return home. our secretary can help you with unseen psychological wounds. these are the costs of war that we will carry as a nation for decades. to all veterans, servicemembers members, families, survivors, our administration is going to meet the sacred obligation that we owe you. we are going to work with conference -- with congress to make sure our veterans receive the world-class benefits that they have earned to meet the specific needs that each
individually need. that means expanding conditions for those with toxic exposure, including agent orange. we are going to keep pushing to become more nimble, reviewing all the data to make sure our veterans not have to wait to get care. it also means prioritizing mental health care to treat the invisible wounds that so many veterans carry, including pursuing our newly released comprehensive public health strategy to reduce military and veteran suicides. to all our veterans, if you are struggling and are used to never asking for anything, reach out. call veterans crisis line. have -- if you are having
trouble thinking about things, it is no different than if you had a wound in your arm. making sure that the growing population of women and lgbtq+ veterans receive appropriate services and support as we continue our efforts to be the pandemic, it means keeping veterans front and center. the american rescue plan included $17 billion to support the v.a.'s covered response and to fund programs that provide rapid retraining for veterans who may have lost their jobs in the pandemic, housing assistance, debt forgiveness, and to impress that invest in improving living conditions.
we are also working to support military families so they can have what they need to thrive. as secretary mcdonough noted, this veterans day also marks the centennial of the tomb of the unknown. 100 years ago today, an american soldier of the first world war known but to god completed the voyage from an unidentified battlefield in france over the rough atlantic sees, here to arlington national cemetery. he lay under the capitol rotunda for two days on the same plank that held the body of lincoln as 90,000 americans paid respects.
he was then escorted from the capital that capitol by the president, the chief justice of the supreme court, and medal of honor recipients all walking without parallel to give honor to the american servicemen or. the generations of americans who risked all, gave all for the cause of freedom to commemorate in the words of a member of congress who proposed the legislation creating the memorial, "an american warrior who typifies the soul of
america." veterans are the soul of america. it is why our veterans have always been willing to put themselves on the line. the first unknown lies now with his veteran -- brethren. those who picked up the metal of honor and made it their burden. today, 100 years later, we keep a sacred watch over their graves. generations of elite sentinels pledging eternal vigilance. wheat late reits to renew our oath's. -- we lay wreaths to renew our oath's.
we must never forget exactly what was given us. each of them was willing to put on the line for us. we must never forget the metis arm of the american warrior, never yielding. generation after generation, they have secured for us liberty, democracy, justice. god bless you all. god bless all american veterans, those who probably earn that title. may god protect our troops. thank you. [applause] [applause]
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