President Biden suffered an embarrassing moment of confusion at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as he stumbled through a Veterans Day service.
The President, 80, needed stage directions from an Arlington Honor Guard after laying a ceremonial wreath, taking several steps in the wrong direction before he was pointed to his spot next to Vice-President Kamala Harris.
Biden then delivered a speech on the ‘ultimate sacrifice’ of American troops, acknowledging escalating global tensions as he praised how ‘Americans stand watch around the world, often with great personal peril.’
‘War and conflict, death and loss, are not relics of our American history – they’re part of our American story.’
After the laying of a ceremonial wreath, Biden appeared to need stage directions from a military officer as he took steps in the wrong direction
Biden, 80, paid his respects to fallen soldiers at the service, where he said that ‘war and conflict, death and loss, are not relics of our American history – they’re part of American story’
Also in attendance at the solemn service was (L-R) Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, Vice-President Kamala Harris, and First Lady Jill Biden
As Biden spoke at Arlington, hundreds of pro-Palestine supporters descended on his Delaware mansion, criticizing the US support for Israel as the conflict in the Middle East escalates
Speaking before members of the Armed Forces and Gold Star families, Biden began: ‘Here in Arlington lie heroes who gave what President Lincoln called ‘the last full measure of devotion.’
‘They did not only die at Gettysburg or in Flanders Field on the beaches of Normandy, but in the mountains of Afghanistan, the deserts of Iraq in the last 20 years.
‘Hundreds of graves are here from recent conflicts. Hundreds of patriots gave their all, each of them leaving behind a family who live with their pain and their absence every single day.’
He added that veterans are the ‘steel spine of this nation’, and recounted famous battles that saw soldiers ‘linked in a chain of honor that stretches back to our founding days.’
‘Each one bound by a sacred oath to support and defend. Not a place, not a person, not a president, but an idea, to defend an idea unlike any other in human history,’ he said.
‘That idea is the United States of America.’
President Biden lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery during celebrations for Veterans Day
Biden revealed a card from his jacket that he said he has carried with him since he was vice-president, which has an updated number of US soldiers who have died in recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
‘Today, that number is 7,036,’ he said. ‘7,036 fallen angels who have lost their lives in these conflicts.
‘This Memorial Day, we honor their legacy and their sacrifice, duty, honor to their country.’
Saturday’s service was the 70th annual National Veterans Day Observance at Arlington, and followed a private reception in the White House East Room for veterans and military officials.
At the same time as his remarks, Biden’s Delaware mansion became the subject of a huge protest over the war in the Middle East.
Dozens of Palestinian flags were seen waving outside his sprawling estate, alongside signs calling for an end to the US funding of Israel after the war-torn nation’s retaliatory strikes against Hamas have killed at least 11,000 people in Gaza.
The President acknowledged escalating global tensions in his speech, adding: ‘Americans stand watch around the world, often with great personal peril’
Saturday’s service was the 70th annual National Veterans Day Observance at Arlington National Cemetary
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris listen to the National Anthem during a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
On Monday, Biden also spoke of the role of America’s military might around the world, urging Americans to honor the troops for defending democracy as it is ‘in peril here at home and around the world.’
‘What we do now, how we honor the memory of the fallen will determine whether or not democracy will long endure,’ he said.
Biden also appeared to remark on growing fears his likely 2024 election rival Donald Trump could again contest the results of an election, as he argued that ‘Democracy thrives when the infrastructure of democracy is strong.’
The political theme extended into his speech at Arlington on Saturday, where he stressed the important of the ‘right to vote freely and fairly and conveniently.’
‘We were built on an idea, the idea of liberty and opportunity for all,’ Biden continued.
‘We’ve never fully realized that aspiration of our founding’, he argued, adding that each ‘generation has opened the door a little wider.’