In his latest weekly address, President Barack Obama acknowledged an "especially meaningful" Memorial Day, the first since the U.S. and NATO formally ended the War in Afghanistan in December 2014.
"This weekend," he said, is "a time to pay tribute to all our men and women in uniform who have ever given their lives so that we can live in freedom and security."
"This weekend also reminds us that around the world, our men and women continue to serve and risk their lives," he noted. In Afghanistan, specifically, he said, "Our troops now have a new mission: training and advising Afghan forces."
Obama is scheduled to visit Arlington Cemetery Monday (May 25). "I'll join our Gold Star families, veterans, and their loved ones to remember all our fallen heroes, including the more than 2,200 American patriots who gave their lives in Afghanistan," he said, "and I plan to share a few of their stories."
"Like generations of heroes before them, these Americans gave everything they had. Not for glory, not even for gratitude. But for something greater than themselves. We cannot bring them back, nor can we ease the pain of their families and friends who live with their loss. But we are the Americans they died to defend. .. We have to honor their memory. We have to care for their families, and our veterans who served with them. And as a nation, we have to remain worthy of their sacrifice."
His address is especially meaningful amid reports of a decline in participation in the armed forces, perhaps reflective of the tension that is being felt around the nation between citizens and police. A recent survey revealed that the services have hit the lowest rate since World War II, with less than one-half of 1 percent of the U.S. population serving today.
Watch the POTUS's full address in the video below.
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(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)