President Joe Biden honored those who died serving in the military in Memorial Day remarks at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday.
“Remember their sacrifice, their valor and their grace,” Biden said. “Remember their smiles, their loves, their laughter, their essential vibrant and transcendent humanity.”
The President said: “We must honor their sacrifice by sustaining the best of America while honestly confronting all that we must do to make our nation fuller, freer and more just.”
Biden praised the generations of service members who have “made the ultimate sacrifice” to protect the country and the ideals it stands for.
He spoke of the rising wave of autocratic rule across the world and argued, as he often does, that “liberation, opportunity, justice are far more likely to come to pass in an democracy than an autocracy.”
“This nation was built on an idea, the only nation in the world built on an idea. Every other nation is built on ethnicity, geography, religion, etcetera. We were built on an idea, the idea of liberty, an opportunity for all,” Biden said.
He continued: “We’ve never fully realized that aspiration of our founding, but every generation has opened the door a little wider and every generation has opened it wider and wider to be more inclusive.”
Biden said the diversity of the nation and its armed forces has been “an incredible strength,” and noted Americans of all backgrounds, races, identities and sexual orientations have sacrificed their lives to defend the nation’s democracy.
“Empathy is the fuel of democracy,” the President said. “Our willingness to see each other not as enemies, neighbors, even when we disagree, to understand what the other is going through.”
The President spoke about the death of his own son, Beau Biden, who was an Iraq War veteran. Sunday marked the sixth anniversary of Beau Biden’s death.
“To those who mourn a loved one today, Jill and I have some idea how you’re feeling. Our losses are not the same, but that black hole you feel in your chest, as if it’s going to suck you into it, we get,” Biden said.
He said the anniversary of his son’s death is a difficult time of year for him and his family and that he always feels close to his son on Memorial Day.
“It can hurt to remember, but the hurt is how we feel and how we heal,” Biden said.
Beau Biden was the attorney general of Delaware and a member of the Delaware National Guard, and died in 2015 at the age of 46 from brain cancer.
Earlier on Monday, Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, second gentleman Doug Emhoff, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
This story is breaking and will be updated.