Hours after returning from a surprise visit to Afghanistan, President Obama commemorated Memorial Day by honoring the nation’s troops — and promising to do better by them at home.
“We’re in a pivotal moment. Our troops are coming home. By the end of this year, our war in Afghanistan will finally come to an end,” the president said after laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.
“And yesterday at Bagram (Air Force Base), and here today at Arlington, we pay tribute to the nearly 2,200 American patriots who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan. We will honor them, always.”
Speaking to service members and their families, Obama made reference to the scandalous reports of waitlists and poor services at hospitals run by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“As we’ve been reminded in recent days, we must do more to keep faith with our veterans and their families, and ensure they get the care and benefits and opportunities that they’ve earned and that they deserve,” Obama said.
“These Americans have done their duty,” he said. “They ask nothing more than that our country does ours — now and for decades to come.”
In New York, Mayor de Blasio, whose father served in World War II, honored veterans in ceremonies at the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial in Riverside Park and at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.