Obama Honors the Military in Radio Address
By Scott Wilson
President Obama used his weekly radio address today to urge Americans to find ways of thanking soldiers serving overseas and veterans who have returned home. He also highlighted the ways that his administration is trying to do the same.
On the eve of Memorial Day, Obama said, "Our fighting men and women -- and the military families who love them -- embody what is best in America."
"We have a responsibility to serve all of them as well as they serve all of us," he said. "And yet all too often in recent years and decades, we, as a nation, have failed to live up to that responsibility. We have failed to give them the support they need or pay them the respect they deserve."
Obama spoke Friday at the commencement ceremonies of the U.S. Naval Academy, where he told the graduating class that "I have no greater honor than serving as your commander in chief."
He also used that opportunity to reiterate the message he delivered at the National Archives a day earlier, in a speech explaining his plan to close the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay and to outlaw the harsh interrogation methods sanctioned by the Bush administration. Obama told the graduates that "when America strays from our values it not only undermines the rule of law, it alienates us from our allies, it energizes our adversaries, and it endangers our national security and the lives of our troops."
In his radio address, Obama said his administration is "building a 21st-century Department of Veterans Affairs" that will extend health care to the half-million additional veterans who fought in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and provide them with expanded benefits. He said his budget includes the "largest single-year funding increase in three decades" for the department.
But, he said, "we must also do our part, not only as a nation, but as individuals for those Americans who are bearing the burden of wars being fought on our behalf." He encouraged people to write letters to troops, volunteer at health clinics where wounded soldiers are being treated, or to do "something as simple as saying 'thank you' to a veteran you pass on the street."
Obama recalled U.S. military history from the Revolutionary War through the Allied landing at Normandy, where he will travel next month to commemorate the 65th anniversary of D-Day.
"It's about remembering each and every one of those moments when our survival as a nation came down not simply to the wisdom of our leaders or the resilience of our people, but to the courage and valor of our fighting men and women," Obama said. "For it is only by remembering these moments that we can truly appreciate a simple lesson of American life -- that what makes all we are and all we aspire to be possible are the sacrifices of an unbroken line of Americans that stretches back to our nation's founding."
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