President Joe Biden vowed to remember and honor fallen U.S. service members during an address at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday as part of a day of events commemorating veterans and their families.
“If we forget what they sacrificed, what they did so that our nation could endure, strong, free and united, then we forget who we are,” Biden said. “Today we renew our sacred vow – a simple vow – to remember.”
The President and First Lady Jill Biden were also joined by Vice President Kamala Harris, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the National Cemetery of Arlington to lay a wreath at the grave of the Unknown Soldier.
After laying the wreath of red and white roses wrapped in red, white and blue ribbon in front of the grave, Biden, standing to attention under cloudless skies in the late May heat, saluted as the taps played .
He also addressed the division at home and abroad, saying the nation’s experiment in democracy remains under threat.
He called maintaining democracy “the mission of our time.”
“Our memorial doesn’t have to be just a day when we stop and pray,” Biden said. “It must be a daily commitment to act, to come together, to be worthy of the price that has been paid.”
The president and first lady, whose veteran son Beau died of a brain tumor in 2015, attended a church near their home in Delaware and visited their son’s grave early Monday morning.
After flying to the White House, they hosted a closed Memorial Day breakfast in the East Room with about 130 members of veterans’ organizations, military family groups, and senior Department of Health officials. Defense and other administration officials.
The Bidens also planned to honor the families of fallen service members by planting a magnolia tree on the South Lawn of the White House.
Earlier Monday, Biden spoke to reporters about gun legislation, saying “the Second Amendment was never absolute” and that after last week’s shooting at a Texas elementary school, he could there should be bipartisan support for tightening restrictions on the type of high-powered weapons used by the shooter.
“I think things have gotten so bad that everyone is becoming more rational, at least that’s my hope,” Biden told reporters on the White House lawn after returning to Washington.
His comments came a day after the president visited the shattered Texas community of Uvalde, mourning privately for more than three hours with anguished families mourning the 19 children and two teachers who died in the shooting. Facing chants of “doing something” as he left a church service, Biden vowed, “We’ll do it.”
Upon arriving from Delaware for the Memorial Day events, Biden was asked if he was now more motivated to see new federal gun limits.
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden visited Uvalde, Texas on Sunday.
“I was pretty motivated throughout,” he said. “I will keep attacking and we will see how it goes.”
In Congress, a bipartisan group of senators met over the weekend to see if they could reach even a modest compromise on gun legislation after a decade of mostly unsuccessful efforts. This involved encouraging state “red flag” laws to keep guns away from people with mental health issues.
“The Second Amendment was never absolute,” Biden said. “You couldn’t buy a gun when the Second Amendment passed. You couldn’t go out and buy a lot of guns.”
There isn’t enough support from congressional Republicans for broader gun measures popular with the public — like a new ban on assault-style weapons or universal background checks on gun purchases. ‘fire arms. Still, Democratic advocates hope meaningful measures can still be passed.
President Biden commented on the mass shooting that occurred in Uvalde, Texas during his keynote address at the University of Delaware’s commencement ceremony on Saturday.