Speaking at a Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday, President Obama noted that the holiday had special significance as the two defining military conflicts of this generation were reaching their conclusion.
"For the first time in nine years, Americans are not fighting and dying in Iraq," Obama said. "We are winding down the war in Afghanistan and our troops will cotniue to come home. After a decade under the dark cloud of war, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon. Especially for those who've lost a loved one, this chapter will remain open long after the guns have fallen silent."
Obama went on to pay tribute to the first casualties of the Iraq War, four Marines who were killed in a helicopter crash in Kuwait as the invasion began: Major Jay Thomas Aubin, Captain Ryan Anthony Beaupre, Corporal Brian Matthew Kennedy and Staff Sergeant Kendall Damon Watersbey. He also noted the final casualty of the war, Army Specialist David Hickman, who was killed by an IED in December.
"As president, I have no higher honor and no greater responsibility than serving as Commander in Chief of the greatest military the world has ever known," Obama said. "And on days like this, I take pride in the fact that this country has always been home to men and women willing to give of themselves until they have nothing to give."
He intoned that Americans "must always strive to be worthy of their sacrifice."