Vice President Mike Pence, along with acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, honored the nation’s fallen servicemembers Monday, laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and addressing the crowd gathered at Arlington National Cemetery’s amphitheater.
"Those laid to rest here define sacrifice, service and purpose," Shanahan said. "In their days they guarded our freedoms. In our time, we discharge a sacred obligation to remember them."
“Heroic Americans have answered their nation’s call and paid the ultimate price for our freedom,” said Vice President Mike Pence during the Memorial Day observance. “History records that more than 40 million have served in the uniform of the United States and nearly 1 million Americans have fallen in uniform since our nation’s founding. Americans of every race and creed have fought and died for our freedom, but as I can tell from the faces of those gathered here, you know the numbers don’t tell the story.
“They tell nothing of the lives of promise cut short, of dreams unfulfilled, of families shattered. Words fail when heroes fall. So we do well on this day, each year, just to tell their stories and to let their words and deeds speak for them.”
The vice president also paid tribute to those whose remains have never been found and identified.
“We can never repay the debt of gratitude we owe to the men and women who have given all to preserve our freedom, but we can honor them, remember them, and cherish their families, and this we will do," Pence said. "Not just this day but every day. And so long as our nation continues to produce men and women of such selfless courage and patriotism, I know that freedom will ring for ourselves and our posterity.
“Their duty was to serve. Our duty is to remember. This Memorial Day, let every American renew our commitment to do our duty, to never fail to remember what they've done for us, and never fail to honor and cherish the families they've left behind, and never fail to strive each and every day to be worthy of the freedom they won for us all."
American Legion National Vice Commander Paul Spedaliere and American Legion National Security Director Rhonda Powell laid a wreath honoring the nation’s fallen heroes following the program at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.