By Adrienne M. Combs, Deputy Public Affairs OfficerJune 1, 2010
ARLINGTON, Va. (June 1, 2010) -- The annual National Memorial Day observance to honor AmericaAca,!a,,cs fallen military servicemembers was held May 31 at Arlington National Cemetery.
The U.S. Army Military District of Washington conducted an Armed Forces Full Honor Wreath-Laying Ceremony at 11 a.m. at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Maj. Gen Karl R. Horst, commander of Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region and The U. S. Army Military District of Washington, served as the official escort for Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who laid the wreath.
About 1,000 people watched the wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and an additional 5,000 people attended the ceremony in the amphitheater.
An observance program hosted by the Department of Defense in the Memorial Amphitheater followed the wreath-laying ceremony. The musical prelude prior to the program was performed by The U.S. Navy Band. Members of the Veterans Service Organizations participated in the Parade of Colors. Another interlude was played by The U.S. Navy Band followed by the invocation by Col. Brent Causey, U.S. Army Command Chaplain for Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region and The U. S. Army Military District of Washington.
After the playing of the National Anthem, Adm. Mike G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, gave the opening remarks and The U.S. Navy Sea Chanters performed a rendition of "American anthem."
William J. Lynn III, deputy secretary of Defense, gave remarks and introduced the keynote speaker, Joseph R. Biden Jr., vice president of the United States.
The vice president said participating in the ceremony was "the greatest honor of my public life." In his opening comments he stated, "Collectively, the generation of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who have served and sacrificed for us are the heart and soul, and I would say, spine of this nation. And as a nation, we pause today to remember them. They gave their lives fulfilling their oath to this nation and to us. And in so doing, they imparted a responsibility on us to recognize, to respect, to honor and to care for those who risked their lives so that we can live ours."
He concluded his comments by saying,"To those who have lost a loved one in the service of our nation, I recall a famous headstone in Ireland. And the headstone reads as follows, 'Death leaves a heartache no one can heal. Love leaves a memory no one can steal.' No one can steal the memory from you. I can tell you from my own personal experience that eventually the pain and heartache you now feel will eventually, God-willing, be replaced by the joyful memory of the son or daughter or husband and wife or father or mother that you loved so dearly and lost. Jill and my prayer for you is that that day will come sooner rather than later. But it will come, I promise you."
After Vice President Biden's remarks, TAPS, benediction and the dismissal of colors concluded the ceremony. Biden also visited families of servicemembers in Section 60 immediately after the ceremony.