By Daniel Strauss - 11/11/11 05:35 PM EST
President Obama used his Veterans Day remarks to thank veterans for their service, note military victories in the past year and tout the work Democrats have done to encourage the hiring of veterans.
The president and first lady Michelle Obama are spending Friday with current and former members of the armed services. They held a breakfast for veterans at the White House Friday morning and then participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington Cemetery.
"In concert with our allies they have helped end Gadhafi's brutal dictatorship and returned Libya to its people," Obama said.
He also repeated his message that American troops in Iraq will be home for the holidays.
"My fellow Americans, our troops are coming home. For many military families this season will be a season of homecomings," he said.
He also stressed the importance of not cutting benefits for veterans.
"So on this Veterans Day, let us commit ourselves to keep making sure that our veterans keep receiving the benefits they deserve," Obama said
The president then highlighted Democrats' push to pass a part of his job-creation plan that aims to encourage businesses to hire veterans.
"Our government needs their patriotism and sense of duty and that's why I've ordered the hiring of more veterans by the federal government," Obama said.
On Thursday, the Senate passed a bill with a provision to encourage the hiring of veterans. The legislation would provide monthly payments for retraining assistance to returning veterans and includes the tax credit Obama proposed in his jobs legislation for companies that hire veterans. The House is expected to pass the bill next week, as it represents a bipartisan agreement between House Republican and Senate Democratic leaders.
Obama said that the legislation encourages business leaders to hire as many as 100,000 veterans.
"And yesterday some of these business leaders joined Michelle to announce they will meet that challenge," Obama said. "On this Veterans Day I ask every American, recruit our veterans."
The ceremony and Obama's speech are part of a day of military-related events for the Obamas. In the afternoon, they are scheduled to fly to San Diego, where the president will make a speech aboard the USS Carl Vinson. Obama and the first lady then plan to attend the Carrier Classic, also aboard the Vinson, according to the White House.
The Carl Vinson was the ship that took Osama bin Laden's body for its sea burial. But, on Friday, it will be hosting a college basketball game between Michigan State and North Carolina. James Worthy and Magic Johnson will serve as honorary captains, and the audience will include active military personnel.
Several politicians on both sides of the aisle thanked veterans for their service on Friday, and Obama expressed his gratitude in his remarks at Arlington Cemetery.
"If there is anything our veterans teach it is there no threat we cannot meet, no challenge we cannot overcome," he said. "You, our veterans, fight so our children won't have to. ... America leads so that the next generation here and around the world will know a more hopeful life here and on this Earth."
—Josiah Ryan and Pete Kasperowicz contributed.