WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama urged Americans to remember the nation's fallen service members on Memorial Day and to honor their memories by taking better care of their families and loved ones at home.
The president delivered short remarks on Monday after a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
“Here, at Arlington, the deafening sounds of combat have given way to the silence of these sacred hills," Obama said. "The chaos and confusion of battle has yielded perfect, precise rows of peace. The Americans who rest here, and their families, the best of us, those from whom we asked everything, ask of us today only one thing in return: that we remember them."
"Those who rest beneath this silence, not only here at Arlington, but at veterans cemeteries across our country and around the world, they didn't speak the loudest about their patriotism. They let their actions do that. Whether they stood up in times of war, signed up in times of peace, or were called up by a draft board, they embodied the best of America," the president added.
Obama also urged Americans to honor the dead by making sure service members are welcomed home with jobs and good health care.
His call to action comes amid renewed criticism of the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has been under congressional scrutiny due to a heavy backlog of benefits claims and canceled appointment times. Robert A. McDonald, the secretary of the VA, came under fire last week after he compared the waiting times for veterans receiving care to standing in line at Disneyland.
The president said the nation still needs to do more on that front.
"For us, the living, those of us who still have a voice, it is our responsibility and our obligation to fill our silence with our love and gratitude and not with just our words but with our actions," Obama said.
"Truly remembering, truly honoring these fallen Americans means being there for their parents and spouses and children," he continued. "Truly remembering means that after our fallen heroes gave everything to get their battle buddies home, we have to make sure they get everything they have earned -- from good health care to good jobs. And we have to do better. Our work is never done."