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ABC News(CHAPPAQUA, N.Y.) -- Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton took a short break from the campaign trail on Monday to participate in her favorite Memorial Day tradition: the annual New Castle Memorial Day Parade in Chappaqua, New York.

Clinton, who loves the parade (like “really, really, really” loves it), was joined this year by her husband, Bill Clinton -- marking their first public appearance together since the announcement of her presidential campaign.

The two arrived in Clinton’s famous Scooby van just before 11 a.m., when the parade was scheduled to start, and were instantly swarmed by crowds of locals, young and old, clamoring for a moment with their town’s most famous couple.

“Hi! Oh, hi! Hi! So good to see you! Mwah!” Clinton called out as one after the next, she greeted friends and neighbors.

The crowds were eventually asked to step aside so the Clintons could take their position at the front of the parade, where they walked alongside friends and other local elected officials.

“It's a wonderful tradition,” Clinton said as she began walking. “Obviously it happens in towns and cities across our country but it's a good way to remember our veterans particularly those who gave their lives or were grievously injured, and we just need to, you know, make sure that it continues from year to year, generation to generation."

Hillary Clinton has attended the parade nearly every single year since she and Bill Clinton moved into the town, about an hour north of New York City, in 1999 -- and it’s something she does not like to miss no matter what.

"I put this on my calendar every year, and I basically tell my staff I really, really, really want to do this," the then-secretary of state told the New York Times on Memorial Day in 2012. "So unless there's some crisis of significant proportions, I'll be here, and I've had a few crises where I've had to take phone calls as I've marched."

This year, Clinton was greeted by crowds cheering their support for 2016, some even wearing t-shirts reading: “It Takes a Village: Chappaqua for Hillary.”

But when asked by a reporter about the signs of support along the parade route, Clinton didn’t engage.

“This parade is not about that,” she said.


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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama honored the sacrifice of U.S. servicemen and women Monday at Arlington National Cemetery, the first Memorial Day observance where the country "is not engaged in a major ground war" and the 70th since the end of World War II, the president said.

Here are the five most powerful moments from the president's speech:

1. On Arlington National Cemetery

"My fellow Americans, this hallowed ground is more than the final resting place of heroes; it is a reflection of America itself. It's a reflection of our history: the wars we've waged for democracy, the peace we've laid to preserve it. It's a reflection of our diversity: men and women of all backgrounds, all races and creeds and circumstances and faiths, willing to defend and die for the ideals that bind us as one nation."

2. On serving in the military

"Most Americans don't fully see, don't fully understand the sacrifice made by the one percent who serve in this all-volunteer armed forces - a sacrifice that preserves the freedoms we too often take for granted. Few know that it's like to take a bullet for a buddy, or to live with the fact that he or she took one for you."

3. On sacrifice

"These sons and daughters, these brothers and sisters who lay down their lives for us - they belong to us all. They're our children, too. We benefit from their light, their positive influence on the world."

4. On honoring service in the U.S. military

"It's our duty, our eternal obligation, to be there for them too; to make sure our troops always have what they need to carry out the mission; to make sure we care for all those who have served; to make sure we honor all those whom we've lost."

5. On America's debt to fallen U.S. soldiers


"The Americans who rest beneath these beautiful hills and in sacred ground across our country and around the world, they are why our nation endures. Each simple stone marker arranged in perfect military precision, signifies the cost of our blessings. It is a debt we can never fully repay. But it is a debt well never stop trying to fully repay, by remaining a nation worthy of their sacrifice. By living our own lives the way the fallen lived theirs - a testament that greater love has no other than this than to lay down your life for your friends."


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Photo by Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Joe Biden spent his Memorial Day morning taking selfies with veterans before sending them off on their annual “Ride 2 Recovery” bike ride.

Over 200 wounded war vets gathered at the VP’s house Monday morning, along with Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, for a meet-n-greet and to take pictures before the vets embarked on the “UnitedHeathcare Ride 2 Recovery Memorial Day Challenge; a five-day, 360-mile rehabilitative ride from Washington, DC to Virginia Beach.”

Biden posed for dozens of photos with veterans, and even called a few veterans to thank them for their service, and to wish them a Happy Memorial Day.

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Billy Gadbury/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- As tourists packed the National Mall during a busy Memorial Day weekend, a parked vehicle with several suspicious items inside alarmed a Capitol Police patrol unit enough to dispatch a bomb squad and shutdown part of downtown Washington for several hours, authorities said.

Officers on routine patrol late Sunday afternoon observed a parked and unoccupied vehicle that it described as “suspicious in nature," just blocks from the Capitol where a crowd was gathering for the National Memorial Day Concert.

U.S. Capitol Police say its Hazardous Devices Section was called to investigate and ultimately disrupted the suspicious vehicle, triggering a loud band that echoed throughout the Mall.

Photos afterwards revealed a pressure cooker sitting in the grass and a bomb tech removing a propane tank from the vehicle. Officials said there was “an odor of gasoline” that was detected, which further alarmed officers.

U.S. Capitol Police spokeswoman Kimberly Schneider confirmed that there was a pressure cooker located inside the vehicle, but it was ultimately deemed not to be hazardous.

“The USCP bomb squad safely disrupted the items of concern in the vehicle including the pressure cooker, at about 7:45 p.m., and performed a thorough hand search,” Schneider wrote in a news release Sunday evening. “At about 8:20 p.m., the USCP concluded its investigation of the suspicious vehicle with negative results and nothing hazardous found.”

The owner of the vehicle was located and identified as Israel Shimeles of Alexandria, Virginia. Shimeles was arrested and charged with Operating After Revocation, according to Schneider.


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Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Five-year-old Yasmeen Faruqui didn't feel like doing her homework. She insisted she wanted to write to President Obama instead. And he wrote back.

"Please stop war for our world, instead have a meeting," reads Yasmeen's handwritten note, posted to Twitter by her aunt. "Please give a speech to tell everyone they can marry who they want."

"Tell your niece I really like her letter. Couldn't agree more!" the commander-in-chief replied Friday on Twitter. It's just the sixth tweet on his new account.

Yasmeen's words were all her own, her mother told ABC News. (After all, only a 5-year-old would note she's "almost six" in a letter to the leader of the free world.)

"I just let her do her thing," Tasha Faruqui said. "Those are absolutely her spontaneous ideas. ... She has a mind of her own!"

Yasmeen, who's set to participate in a family member's same-sex wedding ceremony this fall, was bothered when her playmates insisted "boys can't marry boys."

"I don't think that's wrong," she told her mom.

"She's very much an independent thinker," Yasmeen's aunt, Fahmida Zaman, told ABC. "She attempts to respectfully color outside the lines."

Because her father serves in the Navy, war has always scared Yasmeen. When she heard the president had read her letter, she went through the roof.

"This means the war's going to end! He got the letter," Yasmeen yelled.

When her mother explained that isn't quite how diplomacy works, Yasmeen was still ecstatic: "Now he got my message and he can share my message," she told her mom.

"I think it says a lot about our president, responding to a letter of a 5-year-old. That's pretty remarkable," Zaman said. "It lets her feel like her voice is heard."

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Ohio's Republican Gov. John Kasich said he's "getting closer" to jumping into the 2016 race for the White House, but dismissed the idea of being a vice presidential candidate should he fail to secure the GOP nomination for president.

"Forget it, Jon. I don't play for second," Kasich told ABC News' Jonathan Karl Sunday on This Week.

As he weighs whether to join an already-crowded Republican field for president, Kasich said he was "very optimistic" about his potential campaign, based on his recent visits to early primary states.

"I am very pleased with what we have seen over the course of the last month. I've been very pleased with what I found out on the ground in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Michigan. ... I have to tell you that I'm increasingly optimistic about all of this," Kasich said.

Kasich touted his "deep experience" as both a governor and former leader in Congress as assets in a potential run for the presidency, saying "I'm pretty qualified for this kind of a job."

"I'm the most experienced in the field with being an executive, running a big state like Ohio, dealing with problems like Cleveland; at the same time being in Congress, balancing the budget," Kasich said.

"[W]e need somebody who has deep experience, executive experience who has made decisions where there is a bottom line who has a deep knowledge of foreign affairs, because it's pretty clear that America's position in the world is being questioned and it leaves us less secure at home," Kasich added.

Kasich was hesitant to directly criticize his fellow Republicans already running for the nation's highest office, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, when he had the opportunity. But he did take aim at the foreign policy of the sitting president over his strategy to defeat ISIS, calling it "feckless." In recent days the extremist Sunni group has gained control of the Iraqi city of Ramadi and the Syrian city of Palmyra.

"I said months ago that we ought to have a coalition of our Western partners and our -- any of our allies in the Middle East to form a coalition to knock ISIS out. And if that includes American boots on the ground, so be it," Kasich said. "But at the end of the day, you just can't let them continue to make all this progress.

"Look, three big problems," Kasich added. "One, we disbanded the Iraqi army and we have nothing but chaos since we started. Two, we failed to arm the opposition in Syria to push Assad out, which would have been strategic because of the support for Iran and Russia in regard to [Syrian President Bashar] Assad. Then we had a red line and we ignored that. And now we find out that over in Syria, they're dropping barrel chlorine bombs on people. So, you know, it's been a feckless foreign policy."


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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- ISIS would "of course" use a nuclear weapon if given the chance, House Armed Services Committee Chair Rep. Mac Thornberry said on Sunday, responding to reports of ISIS claiming they had the resources to acquire a nuclear weapon from Pakistan within a year.

Despite the reports that ISIS hopes to obtain a nuclear weapon, Thornberry, R-Texas, told ABC News' Jonathan Karl on This Week that the jihadist group has not taken steps yet, saying that there is "no evidence that it has happened."

"Would they do it if they had the opportunity? Of course. Would they use it if they had it? I don't think there's any doubt," Thornberry said.

"We don't wait until they get it before we take action that seriously degrades and destroys ISIS," Thornberry added. "Secondly, we keep pushing at their finances to lower the amount of money they have."

While the White House is arguing that the U.S. is not losing the war against ISIS even as they gained strongholds in the cities of Ramadi in Iraqi and Palmyra in Syria, Thornberry said that ISIS "has a lot of momentum on their side."

"I don't know about the president resists, saying we're losing it. We're not winning. We know that," Thornberry said.

"You see not only ISIS gaining territory in Iraq and in Syria and I think the map, like you showed, gives it very graphically about their territory expanding," he added.

While Thornberry said he would prefer not having U.S. ground troops fight alongside the Iraqi military, he called for greater intelligence capability and on-the-ground advisers to help combat ISIS.

"Some of our military folks believe, however, if we'd had some advisers on the ground we could have called in effective airstrikes, that it would have at least made the battle for Ramadi more competitive," Thornberry said.

"But the other thing we've got to do is improve our intelligence capability," he said.

Thornberry voted earlier this month for the USA Freedom Act, which would have reformed the government's bulk data collection process. The measure was blocked in a late-night vote in the Senate this weekend, leaving the Patriot Act set to expire on June 1.

"We passed what I think is an imperfect bill out of the House, but it's better than letting it expire," he said. "So we need to have that crucial intelligence capability continue."


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ABC News(CLEVELAND) -- Ohio Gov. John Kasich praised the people of Cleveland on Sunday, calling its residents a “model” in their response to the acquittal of a white police officer charged in the 2012 shooting deaths of an unarmed black couple.

Protests quickly followed the acquittal of officer Michael Brelo, who had been charged in the deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.

While the city's police chief said the protests grew violent after earlier peaceful demonstrations, Kasich said Cleveland residents should be "proud of themselves."

“The verdict is the verdict, Jon [Karl]. What I will say is that I think the people of Cleveland handled this, I mean, they should be so proud of themselves and we should look at Cleveland as a model,” the Republican governor said during an appearance on This Week. “The mayor, former Senator Nina Turner, some of the ministers -- Todd Davidson -- these are people who have said it is proper to protest and -- but at the same time, no violence, because violence in a community only destroys the community."

Michael Brelo, 31, was acquitted of voluntary manslaughter and a lesser charge of felonious assault in the shooting deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. Prosecutors said Brelo was one of 13 officers who fired 137 times into the couple's car in the November 2012 shooting.


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Photo Illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The National Security Agency has begun "winding down" the once top-secret bulk collection of Americans' phone records after Congress failed to renew or change the program before a holiday recess, a senior administration official told ABC News.

"We've said for the past several days that the wind-down process would need to begin yesterday if there was no legislative agreement. That process has begun," the official said.

The government has relied on Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which expires at midnight on May 31, to authorize collection of telephone metadata for all U.S. calls. That data was said to include phone numbers and duration of a call, but not the content of the call or any other personally identifying information.

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the existence of the phone surveillance program with his leaked cache of documents in 2013.

Lawmakers left town for a week-long holiday break without addressing the program as its expiration looms.

The Obama administration did not seek renewal of the bulk collection program, instead proposing that phone companies retain the records and make them available for case-by-case review by the government with a court order. A bipartisan version of that proposal -- the USA Freedom Act -- passed the House of Representatives earlier this month but was blocked in a late-night vote in the Senate.

Defenders of the phone surveillance program insist that ending it will hamper the FBI and NSA in their pursuit of suspected terrorists and spies, though there is little evidence it has been directly responsible for any thwarted plots.

The Senate also failed to advance a short-term extension of the program to allow more time to negotiate a compromise.

Lawmakers will have just 8 hours to resolve their differences over the phone program and other expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act, which is widely seen as a critical tool for law enforcement, when they return at 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 31.

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Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate blocked a House bill early Saturday morning that would have extended three sections of the Patriot Act which are set to expire on June 1.

Sixty votes were needed to pass the House-approved USA Freedom Act. But the vote late Friday night saw the bill get just 57 votes in support. After the bill failed, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., attempted to get it passed by unanimous consent, but failed to do so.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made multiple attempts to pass shorter extensions, but was blocked four times, including three objections from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky.

"For those who want reform and want to prevent the government from holding the data, the Freedom Act is the only way to do it," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said Saturday. "The House has passed it, the President wants it, all of the Intelligence personnel have agreed to it."

Boxer pointed blame across the aisle after the Saturday morning efforts to get the USA Freedom Act passed, saying "we tried with the majority to protect this country and the Republicans objected."

A senior administration official told ABC News on Saturday that the NSA has begun "winding down" its once-secret bulk collection of Americans' phone records in the wake of Congress' failure to extend the existing program.

"We've said for the past several days that the wind-down process would need to begin yesterday if there was no legislative agreement," the official said. "That process has begun."

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Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images(EXETER, N.H.) -- Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton appears to have learned to take selfies so well that she's now teaching others how to do them.

At a campaign event in Exeter, New Hampshire, on Friday, Clinton gave a brief lesson on how to take a selfie to a voter who was attempting to take a photo with her.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. OK. There you go," Clinton said as she helped the woman open the camera on her iPhone outside of the Water Street Bookstore.

Pointing to the camera button, Clinton then instructed the woman on what to do next.

"OK. Now press, press that white button. This right here," she said.

Despite Clinton's efforts, the woman was still unable to capture the photo. At that point a young man in the large crowd that had gathered outside the bookstore to see the former secretary of state stepped up and offered to take a traditional photo instead.

This prompted another person to cry out, "Surrender to the youth!"

The woman, perhaps conceding she wasn't going to figure out the selfie and should, looked over to Clinton.

"Will you?" she asked.

"I will," Clinton responded, laughing.

Smiling, the two women then posed -- old-school style -- for their photo.

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Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- A project dubbed the "biggest construction failure" in the history of the Department of Veterans Affairs -- already $1 billion over budget and more than a year behind schedule -- is getting another $100 million taxpayer bailout.

Construction will continue on a new veterans medical center near Denver, expected to serve 400,000 former military service members and their families. Ahead of Memorial Day, contractors had prepared to stop work on the project as approved funding dried up after repeated overruns and delays.

The Republican-led Congress approved the cash infusion this week before leaving Washington, D.C., for the holiday; President Obama on Saturday morning signed on the dotted line.

The fix is only a stop-gap measure: The $100 million funds just three more weeks of work.

"I am pleased that Congress has taken action to ensure that construction at the site of the Denver Replacement Medical Center will continue," VA Secretary Robert McDonald said in a statement. "I look forward to working with Congress in the coming weeks to determine a path forward to finishing the campus."

The costs to taxpayers for the project have already ballooned from an initial $328 million price tag in 2005 to $1.73 billion, with years more construction to go, according to government watchdog groups.

House Armed Services Committee chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., has called the agency's entire construction program "a disaster" and the Denver project its "biggest construction failure."

Congress had imposed an $880 million spending cap on the program, but the agency has repeatedly lobbied lawmakers to lift the cap and provide more funds.

VA Secretary Robert McDonald was hailed during his appointment last year as a fiscal hawk and seasoned manager, a former CEO of Proctor & Gamble, who would restore efficiency to the nation's largest federal agency.

But the Denver project, which was a boondoggle before he arrived at the agency, has remained an embarrassment. He has said the "mistakes" were "made years ago by VA officials" who preceded him.

Government watchdog Citizens Against Government Waste named McDonald "porker of the month" for his role in not resolving cost overruns and continuing to ask Congress for more funds.

A recent Government Accountability Office report cited several factors behind the ballooning price tag, including "changes to veterans' health care needs, site-acquisition issues, and a decision in Denver to change plans from a medical center shared with a local medical university to a standalone VA medical center."

The legislation signed Friday also alters the Veterans Choice Act, expanding availability of medical services to veterans.

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(NEW YORK) -- Earlier this month, former Arkansas Governor and declared his intent to run for president in 2016. As Huckabee gears up for his campaign, here's some more information about the GOP hopeful.

Name: Michael Dale "Mike" Huckabee

Party: Republican

Declared as a candidate: May 5, 2015 in Hope, Arkansas

What he does now: Huckabee, 59, was a talk show host on Fox News Channel until resigning in January to begin preparations for his presidential bid. He is also the author of several books with his latest, God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy, published in early 2015.

Early political life: Huckabee was governor of Arkansas from 1996-2007. He was promoted from lieutenant governor in July 1996 when Democratic Gov. Jim Guy Tucker resigned after a fraud conviction, and finished out Tucker's term. Huckabee then went on to serve two full four-year terms as governor.

What he used to do: A practicing Southern Baptist minister for 12 years, starting in college at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

What happened last time he ran: In 2008, he won the Iowa Republican caucuses but came in second in the New Hampshire primary behind the eventual GOP nominee -- Sen. John McCain. He lost South Carolina's primary to McCain by three percentage points. Huckabee won seven states by the end of the GOP primary.

In his own words: "I'm not a Republican because I grew up rich. I'm a Republican because I didn't want to spend the rest of my life poor, waiting for the government to rescue me." (2008 Republican National Convention Speech, St. Paul, Minnesota)

Potential baggage: Huckabee has been criticized by fiscal conservatives for raising taxes and increasing spending as governor of Arkansas. By the time he left office, the conservative Cato Institute slapped him with an "F" grade for failing to adhere to small-government principles. Not even a day into his second presidential race, the Club for Growth, a fiscally conservative political advocacy group, went on the air in Iowa and South Carolina with $100,000 in ads slamming him for raising taxes in Arkansas.

Family tree: Huckabee and his wife Janet were high school sweethearts at Hope High School. Their first date was at a truck stop where they chowed down on cheeseburgers after Janet's basketball game. They got married the following year -- on May 25, 1974 -- and have three children and four grandchildren.

The other guy from Hope: President Bill Clinton's conveniently-named birthplace played an iconic role in the president's 1992 campaign. Huckabee, who was born in the same Arkansas town nearly nine years after Clinton, kicked off his campaign from his hometown with plans to go "from Hope to higher ground" (which also happens to be the title of his 2007 book on leadership). But unlike Clinton, Huckabee actually grew up in Hope. (The 42nd president spent his formative years in Hot Springs, Arkansas).

Also known as: The man of the "moral majority." In 2008, Huckabee was the presidential choice for many voters in the influential religious bloc of the GOP. (Nearly six in 10 Iowa caucus-goers in 2012 identified themselves as evangelical Christians.) Given the size of the 2016 Republican field, Huckabee could have more competition in courting evangelical voters in the primary from the likes of Rick Santorum, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Why he has a beef with Beyonce: He took a shot at pop royalty in his most recent book when he called Beyonce's song lyrics "obnoxious and toxic mental poison," slammed rapper Jay-Z for "exploiting his wife as a sex object," and suggested Beyonce's dancing is "best left for the privacy of the bedroom." In an interview with ABC's Martha Raddatz on This Week, Huckabee stood by his criticism but pointed out that he also called Beyonce a "wonderful talent."

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Image Source Pink/Image Source/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) --In a major win for President Obama, the Senate voted Friday 62-37 to pass the so-called "fast track" Trade Promotion Authority.

The so-called “fast track” authority would ease the path for Obama's sweeping Trans-Pacific trade deal and empower the president to send his trade package to Congress for a strict up or down vote with no amendments or filibusters and make it subject to a simple majority.

The TPP deal would be the biggest free-trade pact in decades and is aggressively opposed by liberal Democrats, labor unions and others. 

Obama credited the bipartisan vote as “an important step toward ensuring the United States can negotiate and enforce strong, high-standards trade agreements.”

“If done right, these agreements are vital to expanding opportunities for the middle class, leveling the playing field for American workers, and establishing rules for the global economy that help our businesses grow and hire by selling goods Made in America to the rest of the world,” Obama wrote in a statement Friday.

Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden also cheered the vote.

“This to me is what we’re sent here to do,” Wyden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said following the vote. “Tackle big issues in a bipartisan way.”

But many Democrats were staunchly opposed to the measure, despite intense lobbying from President Obama over the past several weeks.

The House is expected to vote on the measure as soon as next month, but it faces another tough vote in the lower chamber with most Democrats opposed to the legislation.

House Speaker John Boehner suggested supporting the measure is “a no brainer” but warned that its passage will depend on Democratic support as well. Republicans do not have enough votes to pass the measure on their own.

“The House will take up this measure, and Republicans will do our part, but ultimately success will require Democrats putting politics aside and doing what’s best for the country,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “Let’s seize this opportunity to open new doors for the things Americans make and the people who make them."

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Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In his weekly address, President Obama commemorated Memorial Day by paying tribute to the men and women in uniform who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

“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,” Obama said. “We cannot bring them back.  Nor can we ease the pain of their families and friends who live with their loss.”

The president will spend the first Memorial Day since the end of the war in Afghanistan at Arlington Cemetery, remembering the more than 2,200 service members who gave their lives in that conflict, as well as all of the nation’s fallen soldiers.

“So what we can do—what we must do—is fulfill our sacred obligations to them, just like they fulfilled theirs to us.  We have to honor their memory,” he said.

Obama asked that all Americans spend Monday honoring the memory and sacrifice of the nation’s service members.

Read the full transcript of the president's address:
 
Hi, everybody.  This weekend is Memorial Day—a time to pay tribute to all our men and women in uniform who’ve ever given their lives so that we can live in freedom and security.  This year, the holiday is especially meaningful.  It’s the first Memorial Day since our war ended in Afghanistan.
 
On Monday, at Arlington Cemetery, 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.  And I plan to share a few of their stories.
 
Growing up in Arizona, Wyatt Martin loved the outdoors.  To him, a great day was a day spent fishing.  After high school, he enlisted in the Army because he believed that the blessings he enjoyed as an American came with an obligation to give back to his country.
 
Ramon Morris was born in Jamaica, and as a teenager came to Queens.  Like so many proud immigrants, he felt a calling to serve his new country and joined the Army.  He fell in love, got engaged, and the thing he wanted most was to make the world safer for his three-year-old daughter.
 
In their lives, Specialist Wyatt Martin and Sergeant First Class Ramon Morris travelled different paths.  But in December, their paths intersected as the final two Americans to give their lives during our combat mission in Afghanistan.
 
This weekend also reminds us that, around the world, our men and women in uniform continue to serve and risk their lives.  In Afghanistan, our troops now have a new mission—training and advising Afghan forces.  John Dawson was one of them.  From Massachusetts, he loved the Bruins and the Pats.  In April, he gave his life as an Army combat medic—the first American to give his life in this new mission.  This Memorial Day, we’ll honor Corporal Dawson as well.
 
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.  So what we can do—what we must do—is fulfill our sacred obligations to them, just like they fulfilled theirs to us.  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—forever committed to the country they loved and the freedom they fought for and died for.
 
Thank you, have a wonderful weekend, and may God bless our fallen heroes and their families.

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