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Biden invokes ‘Soul of America’ theme on Remembrance Day

President Biden said how America honors the memory of its fallen servicemen “will determine whether democracy lasts long” in a Remembrance Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery. The president, who lost his veteran son Beau to cancer in 2015, said he recognized the pain felt by so many American families that day.

For years, Mr. Biden carried around a map showing the number of Americans who died in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Today, he said, that number is 7,036.

“To all of you who are struggling with the fresh pain of loss, as hard as it may be to believe, I promise you, the day will come when the image of your beloved will bring a smile to your lips before bringing a tear in your eyes, ”the president said. “The Bible teaches, ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.’ This reassurance, this reassurance, may be a long time coming, but it will come, I promise you. ”

Mr. Biden stressed that America is an “idea” dependent on a commitment to freedom and justice in every generation. This is a theme that the president has often emphasized during the election campaign and that he still has as president.

“America’s soul is animated by the perpetual battle between our worst instincts, which we have seen recently, and our best angels. Between ‘me first’ and ‘us the people’. Between greed and generosity, cruelty and kindness, captivity and freedom, ”he said.

President Biden salutes during a Memorial Day celebration at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia on May 31, 2021.
President Biden salutes during a Memorial Day celebration at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia on May 31, 2021.

Joshua Roberts / Reuters

The president often insists that now is an inflection point in American and world history, in a battle between democracy and authoritarianism.

“Democracy itself is in peril, here at home and around the world,” the president said. “What we do now, what we do now, how we honor the memory of the dead, will determine whether democracy will last long.”

The country must not and will not forget those who gave their all for freedom, the president said as he called on Americans to honor their sacrifice.

“On this Memorial Day, remember that not all of us are called to make the ultimate sacrifice,” he said. “We are all called by God and by history and by conscience to make our nation free and just, just and strong, noble and whole. For this battle, may we now consecrate our souls, so that our work will be worthy of the blood of our fallen, for this work, the work of democracy, is the work of our time, and forever.

In the audience for Mr Biden’s remarks were families from the tragedy survivor assistance program of nonprofit veterans and members of the military.

After his speech, the president stopped at section 12 of the cemetery, speaking with two adults and a boy and a girl. He then continued to walk and greeted another family, posing with them for a photo.

Before his address, the President greeted the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and bowed his head. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin greeted the grave and Vice President Kamala Harris placed a hand over her heart.

Visiting Arlington and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a tradition for Presidents on Remembrance Day.

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