Tag Archive | "Memorial Day"

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Nation Celebrates Veterans Day This Weekend

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.

View video below:

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A Truck Becomes Memorial for Fallen Soldier

New America MediaAaron Glantz

 For most Americans, Memorial Day is just an extra day off. It’s the first day of summer, a day to wear white shoes, fire up the grill, or take advantage of extended hours and big sales at the mall.

But for the veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and the families of the 5,400 Americans who have died, Memorial Day has a distinct meaning.

“A lot of people don’t get it,” says Carlos Arredondo, whose son Lance Cpl. Alexander Arredondo was one of seven Marines killed in the battle of Najaf in August 2004. Alex was 20 years old when he died.

Since Alexander’s death, Arredondo has traveled the country in his battered Nissan pick-up truck, which he’s turned into a makeshift memorial for his son.

On its bed lie a military-styled coffin and some of this son’s prized possessions. On its sides are poster-sized photos of Alexander and gigantic American flags.

“I want people to stop for at least a moment and see,” he says. Sometimes, he parks his truck on top of a freeway overpass during rush hour or nearby a busy intersection.

Sometimes passers-by cross the street to avoid him, but Arredondo doesn’t blame them. It can be hard to understand loss if you haven’t experienced it yourself, he says.

“I didn’t know what it’s like to have a family member die in the military until my son died,” he says.

These days, most Americans have stopped paying attention to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the news media have been more than happy to oblige. From May 13 -16, the Pew Center on People and the Press found just one percent of news coverage was devoted to the war in Iraq – well behind news about the economy, the Gulf Coast oil leak, the Supreme Court, Europe’s financial crisis, and even the elections in England.

But the public’s indifference doesn’t mean the wars are over. On May 24, the Defense Department announced the death in Kirkuk of Spc. Stanley Sokolowski of Ocean, N.J. The next day, the Pentagon reported Staff Sgt. Amilcar Gonzalez of Miami, Fla., had died in Ash Shura in Northern Iraq after his unit was attacked by small arms fire.

For the larger public, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars could be the first to be forgotten while they’re still going on.

But, Arrendondo is one of thousands who cannot, or will not, forget.

He will be on Boston Common Monday with the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund, planting a flag for each Massachusetts soldier who died as a result of combat.

Later in the day, he’ll join another memorial, this one organized by Veterans for Peace, to remember civilian casualties, who number between 100,000 and 1 million.

“We do something every day,” he says. He’s not sure when he will stop traveling, publicly mourning his son’s death and the deaths of others, but is sure he will continue at least until the wars are over.

Aaron Glantz is an editor at New America Media and author of the book “The War Comes Home: Washington’s Battle Against America’s Veterans” (UC Press)

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State Launches Online Directory Of Veterans Memorials

HARTFORD — Connecticut now has asearchable online directory of locations and pictures of veterans memorials.

The digital directory aims to help state residents find the memorials and encourage interest among those  who want to honor veterans in the state.

The town-by-town directory was inspired by the family of a Connecticut soldier who died in action, state officials say. 

The directory can be found on the state Department of Veterans Affairs website.

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Greater Hartford Museums Offer Free Admissions

HARTFORD —  Beginning this Memorial Day, the Greater Hartford area museums will offer free admission this summer to active duty military members and their families.

Thanks to  “Operation Appreciation: Blue Star Museums,” the state has found “one more way to say a collective “Thank You” for their service to our country,” said Gov. Jodi Rell in a statement yesterday.

” This initiative also opens more doors of opportunity for the public to enjoy and appreciate culture and arts in Connecticut,” Rell said.

The campaign is a collaboration between the National Endowment for the Arts and Blue Star families, a nonprofit group that supports U.S. military families.

The promotion runs from  May 31 through Labor Day, Sept.  6.

The participating museums are: 

Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, Hartford 

Imagine Nation Museum, Bristol

New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain

Stanley-Whitman House, Farmington

Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford



For more information on participating museums visit


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