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On Veterans Day, Biden pays tribute to sacrifices of service members and families

President Biden speaks at the Memorial Amphitheater in Arlington National Cemetery during celebrations for Veterans Day on Saturday in Arlington, Virginia.
Mandel Ngan
AFP via Getty Images
President Biden speaks at the Memorial Amphitheater in Arlington National Cemetery during celebrations for Veterans Day on Saturday in Arlington, Virginia.

President Biden paid his respects to those who served the country and their families on Saturday — vowing to provide them with the care they need and deserve during his Veterans Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery.

"We owe them. We owe you," Biden said Saturday afternoon. "Not just for keeping the flame of freedom burning during the darkest of moments. For preserving our communities even after they hang up their uniforms, for inspiring the next generation to serve."

The president's remarks came on the 105th anniversary of the end of World War I but his message was largely focused on today's veterans, who he described as the "steel spine" of the nation.

During his remarks, Biden acknowledged the sacrifice that soldiers and their families often make in order to serve the country, like the holidays spent apart, the move from one duty station to another and the sleepless nights waiting to hear back from a loved one deployed oversees.

"Too often their sacrifices go without thanks or without acknowledgment," Biden said.

He added that it was the country's "sacred obligation" to recognize such sacrifices and provide them with adequate support and care.

"It's not an obligation based on party or politics, but on a promise that unites us all together," he said.

The president's speech on care comes a day after the White House announcednew efforts to expand healthcare access for veterans. Beginning this month, the Department of Veteran Affairs will offer its no-cost healthcare to veterans who live in nursing homes and all those who served in World War II. The department will also cover costs associated with Parkinson's disease.

On Saturday, Biden also announced that veterans who were exposed to toxins will be able to enroll in the department's no-cost healthcare starting March 2024. The effort to provide toxin-exposed veterans health services has been hailed as the largest expansion of care in VA history.

Before his remarks, Biden placed a floral wreath at the tomb, solemnly looked at it and gestured the sign of the cross before the military band's trumpeter played taps.

The president was joined by first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Harris, and second gentleman Douglas Emhoff, as well as some members of the president's cabinet.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Juliana Kim
Juliana Kim is a weekend reporter for Digital News, where she adds context to the news of the day and brings her enterprise skills to NPR's signature journalism.