"Today, we gather once more to honor patriots who have rendered the highest service any American can offer this nation: Those who fought for our freedom, and stood sentry for our security," Obama said at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. "On this hillside of solemn remembrance in the veteran's halls, and proud parades across America, we join as one people to honor a debt we can never fully repay."
Men and women donned a military uniform to fight for American ideals "is the gift they have given us," Obama said. "This is the debt that we owe them."
Veterans Day reminds the nation of its "sacred obligations," Obama said, because as the time of war draws to a close, "our time of service to our newest veterans has only just begun. ... Our troops wear the uniform for a time, yet, they wear another proud title, the title of 'veteran,' for decades, for the rest of their lives."
Just as the United States wants to ensure it has the "best-led, best-trained, best-equipped military" in the world, the country also must devote as much energy and passion to ensure it has "the best-cared for, best- treated, best-respected veterans in the world," Obama said.
"So when we talk about fulfilling our promises to our veterans, we don't just mean for a few years. We mean now, tomorrow and forever," Obama said. "And not just for generations past, but for this generation of veterans and all who will follow."
Before his remarks, Obama participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Earlier, he hosted a breakfast at the White House for a group of military veterans and their families.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in a statement, said he was proud to work with more than 7,000 veterans who work for the State Department.
"I am also particularly mindful of the meaning of Veterans Day for the State Department," he said. "It's been said that 'war represents a failure of diplomacy.' The State Department is committed to advancing diplomacy, day in and day out, so that if and when we have to send young Americans into harm's way, it is only because we have exhausted all other options."
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