Biden To Mark Memorial Day With Speech At Arlington National Cemetery

A US Army Old Guard soldier places a flag at a headstone during the annual ‘Flags In’ event ahead of Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, on May 23.

By Donald Judd and Jack Forrest, CNN

Washington (CNN) — President Joe Biden on Monday is set to commemorate Memorial Day during remarks at Arlington National Cemetery, marking a solemn occasion that is personal for the commander in chief.

Before giving his annual Memorial Day Address, Biden participated in a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The president will be joined for his remarks by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who are also set to speak Monday.

The president on Monday morning also hosted a breakfast in honor of Memorial Day with administration officials, military leadership, veterans and Gold Star family members.

The day is also personal for the president – Biden has frequently drawn on the death of his son, Beau Biden, from brain cancer that he believes was linked to the toxic burn pits Beau Biden was exposed to during his tour in Iraq. Thursday will mark the ninth anniversary of Beau Biden’s death.

In a personal and political win in 2022, Biden signed the bipartisan PACT Act, which expanded health care benefits to millions of veterans who were exposed to burn pits, which were used to burn waste — including trash, munitions, hazardous material and chemical compounds — at military sites throughout Iraq and Afghanistan until about 2010. These massive open-air burn pits often operated at or near military bases and released dangerous toxins into the air that, upon exposure, may have caused short- and long-term health conditions, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The president’s remarks come just two days after he delivered the commencement address at West Point, where he pointed to the United States’ role “as the indispensable nation, the world’s only superpower, and the leading democracy in the world.”

“From the very beginning, nothing is guaranteed about our democracy in America,” Biden told the graduating cadets. “Every generation has an obligation to defend it, to protect it, to preserve it, to choose it. Now, it’s your turn.”

It also comes as Biden prepares to travel to Normandy, France, in two weeks, where he’s slated to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

The speech comes at the beginning of what is expected to be a busy period of campaigning ahead of the November election.

Biden’s opponent in that race, former President Donald Trump, marked Memorial Day in a Truth Social post in which he attacked E. Jean Carroll and the judges who have presided over his defamation, civil fraud and criminal hush money trials.

“Happy Memorial Day to All, including the Human Scum that is working so hard to destroy our Once Great Country,” Trump said in the lengthy social media rant.

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