“Democracy itself is in danger, here at home and around the world. What we do now – what we do now, how we honor the memory of the fallen, will determine whether democracy will last or not, ”said Biden.
The president said, “We owe the honored dead a debt that we can never repay in full. We owe them all our souls. We owe them our best to perfect the union for which they died.”
Biden said the nation must honor the sacrifices of generations of service members “by supporting the best of America while sincerely opposing everything we need to do to make our nation full, freer and more just”.
“Empathy is the fuel of democracy,” said the president. “Our willingness not to see each other as enemies, neighbors, even if we disagree, in order to understand what the other is going through.”
“This nation was built on an idea, the only nation in the world built on an idea. Every other nation is built on ethnicity, geography, religion, etc. We were built on an idea, the idea of freedom, an opportunity for all, ”said Biden.
He continued: “We have never fully recognized this aspiration of our founding, but each generation has opened the door a little wider and each generation has opened it wider and wider to be more inclusive.”
Biden said the diversity of the nation and its armed forces is “an incredible strength,” noting that Americans of all backgrounds, races, identities, and sexual orientations have sacrificed their lives to defend the nation’s democracy.
“Think of her sacrifice, her bravery, and her grace,” said Biden. “Remember their smile, their love, their laughter, their essential living and transcendent humanity.”
The president spoke about the death of his own son, Beau Biden, who was a veteran of the Iraq war. Sunday marked the sixth anniversary of Beau Biden’s death.
“To those in mourning for a loved one today, Jill and I have an idea of how you are feeling. Our losses are not the same, but this black hole that you feel in your chest as if it was sucking you into it is what we get, “said Biden.
He said the anniversary of his son’s death was a difficult time of the year for him and his family and that he always felt a bond with his son on Memorial Day.
“It can hurt to remember, but it hurts how we feel and how we heal,” Biden said.
Beau Biden was a Delaware Attorney General and a member of the Delaware National Guard, and died of brain cancer in 2015 at the age of 46.
The previous Monday, Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
Last month, Biden visited the graves in the cemetery of US troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq after announcing that he would withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan. The president said he would withdraw US troops from the country before September 11, the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
This story has been updated with additional information.