President Barack Obama paid tribute on Monday to fallen men and women of the U.S. armed services during a Memorial Day ceremony in which he reminded Americans that the country was still at war.
During a solemn visit to Arlington National Ceremony, the resting ground for many military casualties, Obama noted in remarks to visitors that next year would mark the last Memorial Day of the U.S. war in Afghanistan.
"But even as we turn the page on a decade of conflict, even as we look forward, let us never forget, as we gather here today, that our nation is still at war," Obama said.
Unlike World War Two or the Vietnam War, conflicts that touched nearly every American, today most U.S. citizens were not directly affected by the military conflicts overseas, the president noted.
"As we gather here today, at this very moment, more than 60,000 of our fellow Americans still serve far from home in Afghanistan," Obama said.
"They're still going out on patrol, still living in Spartan forward operating bases, still risking their lives to carry out their mission. And when they give their lives, they are still being laid to rest in cemeteries in the quiet corners across our country, including here in Arlington."
Before his remarks, Obama laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, placing his hand over his heart while taps was played.
Joined by his wife, first lady Michelle Obama, the presidential motorcade snaked through the cemetery on a street lined with uniformed military members while the boom of a ceremonial canon sounded off in the background.