The President marked the 60th anniversary of the Korean War and celebrated the nation’s veterans in Seoul, South Korea. Below is a transcript of his speech given at the Yongsan Army Garrison in Seoul.
We are so proud to have with us U.S. and Republic of Korea vets of the Korean War who are here. And we are greatly honored by their presence. (Hoaa!) (Applause.)
And I want to make special mention of one of them — Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Hector Cafferata, Jr. Please give him an extraordinary round of applause. (Applause.)
It is an enormous honor to be here at Yongsan Garrison. As President of the United States, I have no greater privilege than serving as Commander-in-Chief of the finest military that the world has ever known. (Hoaa!) And on this Veterans Day, there’s no place I’d rather be than right here with U.S. Forces Korea. (Hoaa!)
We’ve got the 8th Army in the house. (Hoaa!) We’ve got members of the 7th Air Force. (Hoaa!) We’ve got U.S. Navy Forces Korea. (Hoaa!) We’ve got just about every Marine in South Korea here today. (Oorah!) (Laughter.) Happy birthday, Marines, by the way. (Oorah!) And we’ve got a whole lot of DOD civilians, too. So we are very proud of you. (Applause.)
It’s good to see some spouses and family members in the audience. You bear the burden of your loved one’s service in ways that are often immeasurable –- an empty chair at the dinner table or another holiday where mom and dad are someplace far away. So I want you to know that this nation recognizes the sacrifices of families, as well. And we are grateful for your service, as well.
Now, on this day, we honor every man and woman who has ever worn the uniform of the United States of America. We salute fallen heroes, and keep in our prayers those who are still in harm’s way -– like the men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Hoaa!)
We recall acts of uncommon bravery and selflessness. But we also remember that honoring those who’ve served is about more than the words we say on Veterans Day or Memorial Day. It’s about how we treat our veterans every single day of the year. It’s about making sure they have the care they need and the benefits that they’ve earned when they come home. It’s about serving all of you as well as you’ve served the United States of America.
This has been one of my highest priorities since taking office. It’s why I asked for one of the largest increases in the VA budget in the past 30 years. It’s why we’ve dramatically increased funding for veterans’ health care. It’s why we’re improving care for wounded warriors, especially those with Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury. It’s why we’re working to eliminate the backlog at the VA and reforming the entire process with electronic claims and medical records. It’s why there are fewer homeless veterans on the streets than there were two years ago. (Hoaa!)
That’s why there are nearly 400,000 veterans and their families who are going to college because of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. (Hoaa!) (Applause.)
So I want all of you to know when you come home your country is going to be there for you. That is the commitment I make to you as Commander-in-Chief. That is the sacred trust between the United States of America and all who defend its ideals.
It’s a trust that’s been forged in places far from our shores: from the beaches of Europe to the jungles of Vietnam, from the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to the peninsula where we stand today.
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