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On Memorial Day, Biden recognizes son Beau, war dead in Arlington National Cemetery

Remarks come on ninth anniversary week of son Beau Biden's death from cancer after Iraq war service.

By Chris Benson
U.S. President Joe Biden (L) and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (R) look on during the 156th National Memorial Day Observance Ceremony on Monday in the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery. Before introducing Biden, Austin said “defending our Republic carries risk. And that goes beyond the dangers of combat” as he said “our troops and their families don't just sacrifice during wartime." Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
1 of 12 | U.S. President Joe Biden (L) and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (R) look on during the 156th National Memorial Day Observance Ceremony on Monday in the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery. Before introducing Biden, Austin said “defending our Republic carries risk. And that goes beyond the dangers of combat” as he said “our troops and their families don't just sacrifice during wartime." Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

May 27 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden on Monday laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, then remembered fallen troops and his son who served in the Iraq war before his 2015 death from cancer.

"America is the only country in the world founded on an idea that all people are created equal, deserves to be treated equally throughout their lives," Biden said in his remarks Monday during the 156th National Memorial Day Observance. "We've never fully lived up to that but we've never ever walked way from it."

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The president was joined at Arlington's amphitheater by first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, second gentleman Doug Emhoff, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff Gen. Charles "CQ" Brown Jr.

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"My fellow Americans," Biden said as he addressed the crowd of military personnel, veterans and their families, "we gather at this sacred place at this solemn moment to remember, to honor the sacrifice of the hundreds of thousands of women and men who have given their lives for this nation."

Before introducing Biden, Austin said defending the country carries risk that "goes beyond the dangers of combat" as he said "our troops and their families don't just sacrifice during wartime."

"Our military families know the long deployments and the painful absences," the 28th defense secretary stated in his remarks." They know the pride that never fades, and the worry that never leaves."

Biden spoke to Gold Star families who similarly lost loved ones in military service and took the time to recognize his late son, former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, who died in 2015 at age 46. "I know how hard it can be" as he acknowledged the uniqueness of each individual story.

"I know it hurts. The hurt is still real, still raw," Biden reminisced as he noted this week is the ninth anniversary of his son's death which the president indicated was cancer thought to be from toxic exposure during Beau Biden's Iraq war service.

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"The pain of his loss is with me every day as it is for so many of you," he said, calling it "still sharp, still clear but so is the pride I feel in his service as if I can still hear him saying, 'It's my duty, dad, it's my duty.'"

Biden said freedom "has never been guaranteed" and that "every generation has to earn it, fight for it, defend it in battle between autocracy and democracy, between the greed of a few and the rights of many."

The current president and likely 2024 Democratic presidential nominee said "our democracy is more than just a system of government. It's the very soul of America. It's how we've been able to constantly adapt to the centuries. It's why we've always emerged from every challenge stronger than we went in."

The "one truly sacred obligation" the United States has among its many to those who serve, he continued, is "to prepare those we send to the battle," and to "prepare to take care of them and their families when they come home, and when they don't."

He touted his achievements to help military personnel, veterans and their families in what he said were 30 bipartisan pieces of legislation signed into law since taking office Jan. 2021 which address a significant number of veteran-related topics or issues.

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"Last year the VA delivered more benefits and processed more claims than ever in our history," Biden claimed as he talked of the PACT Act and its delivery of $2.2 billion in VA benefits for vets exposed to toxins.

Biden, 81, on Saturday gave West Point's commencement speech in New York where he told graduating cadets to "above all, hold fast to your oath."

"On your very first day at West Point, you raised your right hands and took an oath," he said during his remarks. Biden told cadets their oath is "not to a political party, not to a president, but to the Constitution of the United States of America -- against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

Biden's likely 2024 Republican challenger, former President Donald Trump, 77, on Monday took to social media to attack writer E. Jean Carroll and others, including judges in his cases.

"Happy Memorial Day to All, including the Human Scum that is working so hard to destroy our Once Great Country," Trump put on his social media platform Truth Social.

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