Americans should take care to honor the rights protected by fallen soldiers throughout U.S. history, President Barack Obama said this Memorial Day after hours of delay.
The president delivered his Memorial Day address to between 150 and 200 soldiers gathered at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland after storms forced him to cancel planned remarks at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Ill.
"But, at its core, the nobility and majesty of this day can be found in the story of ordinary Americans who became extraordinary for the most simple of reasons: they loved their country so deeply, so profoundly, that they were willing to give their very lives to keep it safe and free," Obama said in prepared remarks. "And whether they made that sacrifice 200 years ago or two days ago, theirs is a common story that humbles all who hear it."
The president had been set to make the remarks just south of Chicago, where he was vacationing at his home with the first family. Vice President Joe Biden participated earlier in the traditional wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery just outside of Washington.
Obama also paid tribute to the families and friends of fallen soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan, two wars over which Obama took charge upon becoming president.
"And though our hearts ache in their absence, we find comfort in knowing that their legacy shines bright in the people they loved—America’s Gold Star families," Obama said of the 17 dead soldiers who are interred at Lincoln.
Those soldiers and soldiers from wars throughout history, Obama said, mentioning wars from the Revolutionary War to the Cold War to the current wars, protected U.S. rights.
"They were earned by the blood and sacrifice of those who went before," he said. "And it falls to each of us to preserve this inheritance for all who follow."
"So let us be worthy of their sacrifice," the president added. "Let us go forward as they do—with the confidence and the resolve, the resilience and the unity that has always defined us as a people, shaped us as a nation and made America a beacon of hope to the world."