May 31, 2021 4:10 PM | With information from EFE
15 minutes. The president of the United States, Joe Biden, set a different tone this year on Memorial Day, the Memorial Day that is celebrated this Monday in the country, with a speech in which he defended honoring the deceased soldiers, in the face of slights from his predecessor Donald Trump to the Armed Forces.
In a speech at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington DC, Biden warned that democracy is at risk. “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 long or not.
“I want to assure each of these families that we will never forget what they have given to our country,” Biden said. The president recalled that to date 7,036 US soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Women and men, all those whom we honor today, gave their lives for their country,” he stressed, “but they will live forever in our hearts, always proud, always honorable, always Americans.”
Biden followed with a defense of democracy and its institutions. In this sense, he spoke in favor of the right to vote and a free press “founded on facts and not on propaganda.”
In addition, he called for the unity of all Americans. “Empathy is the fuel of democracy, our willingness to see each other not as enemies, but as neighbors even if we disagree. “
In a message on his Twitter account, President Biden also paid a tribute on the occasion of Memorial Day.
On Memorial Day, we honor and reflect upon the courage, integrity, and selfless dedication of the members of our Armed Forces who have made the greatest sacrifice in service to our nation. pic.twitter.com/wRq9hJSxoC
– President Biden (@POTUS) May 31, 2021
Difference with Trump
This tone contrasts with that of Trump (2017-2021), who encouraged divisions in the country and who starred in disagreements with the Armed Forces.
Last September, the ex-president starred in a controversy after The Atlantic magazine published that in 2018 he called the Americans who died in World War I “losers” and “failures”, and assured that he does not understand what the citizens of his country gain. country when going to fight abroad.
According to that article, in May 2017 during Memorial Day Trump visited Arlington Cemetery, along with his then Secretary of Homeland Security, General John Kelly, whose son Robert was killed in combat in Afghanistan.
In front of Robert’s grave, Trump turned to John Kelly and said, according to the publication: “I don’t understand. What did they get out of this?”
The allegations made by the magazine were denied by the White House at the time.
Biden, for his part, sought complicity with the soldiers on Monday. He recalled that his son Beau, who died 5 years ago yesterday from brain cancer at age 46, was a veteran of the Army.
“Yesterday was the anniversary, it is a difficult moment to be here with my family, as for many of you,” said the president. He assured that he knows what it is like to be there honoring a deceased relative, a “fallen hero.”
But he wanted to send a message of hope. He predicted that “the day will come when the image of their loved ones brings a smile to their lips, rather than a tear to their eyes.”
Message to Putin
His speech this Monday was more aimed at his compatriots, unlike the one he offered this Sunday also on the occasion of Memorial Day in Wilmington (Delaware), where he has his private residence. In those words, he announced that he will ask Russian President Vladimir Putin to respect human rights when they meet on June 16 in Geneva.
Before delivering Monday’s speech, Biden participated with Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in a tribute at the Tomb to the Unknown Soldier in Arlington. There, the president posed in front of a wreath of flowers and crossed himself.