As citizens around the country celebrate Memorial Day, President Bush, Senator McCain and Senator Obama gave remarks and issued statements honoring veterans.
On this Memorial Day, our nation honors the generations of patriots who were willing to give their lives to defend this country. While we may come from different places, cherish different traditions, and have different political beliefs, all Americans hold in reverence those who've given this country the full measure of their devotion. They are a shining example of what's best about America.
Today is also a reminder of our obligation as Americans to serve our fallen heroes as well as they served us; as well as the wounded warriors I've had the honor of meeting at Walter Reed have served us; as well as the troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world are serving us. That means giving the same priority to building a 21st century VA as to building a 21st century military. It means having zero tolerance for veterans sleeping on our streets. It means bringing home our POWs and MIAs. And it means treating the graves of veterans like the hallowed ground it is and banning protests near funerals.
So on this day, of all days, let's memorialize our fallen heroes by honoring all who wear our country's uniform; and by completing their work to make America more secure and our world more free.
I was blessed to have been born into a family who made their living at sea in defense of our security and ideals. My grandfather was a naval aviator; my father a submariner. And it was nearly pre-ordained that I would find a place in my family's profession, and that occupation would one day take me to war. Such was not the case for many of you. Your ambitions might not have led you to war; the honors you sought were not kept hidden on battlefields. Many of you were citizen-soldiers. You answered the call when it came; took up arms for your country's sake; and fought to the limit of your ability because you believed America's security was as much your responsibility as it was the professional soldier's. And when you came home, you built a better a country than the one you inherited. It's a privilege to be in your company.
The sacrifices made by veterans deserve to be memorialized in something more lasting than marble or bronze or in the fleeting effect of a politician's speeches. Your valor and devotion to duty have earned your country's abiding concern for your welfare. And when our government forgets to honor our debts to you, it is a stain upon America's honor. The Walter Reed scandal recalled, I hope, not just government but the public who elected it, to our responsibilities to the men and women who risked life and limb to meet their responsibilities to us. Such a disgrace is unworthy of the greatest nation on earth. As the greatest leaders in our history, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, instructed us, care for Americans who fought to defend us should rank among the highest of national priorities.
On this Memorial Day, I stand before you as the commander in chief and try to tell you how proud I am,'' Bush told an audience of military figures, veterans and their families at Arlington National Cemetery. Of the men and women buried in the hallowed cemetery, he said, ''They're an awesome bunch of people and the United States is blessed to have such citizens...
...From faraway lands, they were returned to cemeteries like this one where broken hearts received their broken bodies,'' Bush said. ''They found peace beneath the white headstones in the land they fought to defend. It is a solemn reminder of the cost of freedom that the number of headstones in a place such as this grows with every new Memorial Day...
...I am humbled by those who have made the ultimate sacrifice that allow a free civilization to endure and flourish,'' Bush said. ''It only remains for us, the heirs of their legacy, to have the courage and the character to follow their lead and to preserve America as the greatest nation on Earth and the last, best hope for mankind.