For his first Memorial Day as commander-in-chief, President Joe Biden carried on with a decades-long tradition and attended a service at War Memorial Plaza in New Castle to honor troops who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
No stranger to loss, Biden tried to comfort families during the memorial service, acknowledging “the moment that we celebrate it is the toughest day of the year.”
The president’s son, Beau Biden, Delaware’s former attorney general, was a major in the Army National Guard and served in Iraq. He died of brain cancer on May 30, 2015, six years ago Sunday.
Before the observance at the War Memorial Plaza, the Biden family attended a memorial mass at St. Joseph on the Brandywine church, where Beau is buried.
Later Sunday morning, speaking to a limited crowd near the Delaware Memorial Bridge, which included Beau’s son Hunter, lawmakers, and veterans, the president said the pain of losing loved ones never goes away, but gets better with time.
“I promise you, the day will come when the mention of the name of your son or daughter, husband, wife, they will in fact bring, not a tear to your eye, but a smile to your lips, folks, and I hope that day comes sooner than later,” said Biden.
To date, the U.S. has lost 7,036 troops in the 20-year conflict with Iraq and Afghanistan, a number Biden said he keeps on his person at all times. The U.S. is slated to pull out of Afghanistan in July, two months ahead of Biden’s original deadline of the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
During the ceremony, a common thread in Biden’s and Delaware Gov. John Carney’s speeches was the need to take care of families who lose loved ones in combat, as well as the troops who make it back home.
Carney acknowledged service members who stepped up to help during the COVID-19 pandemic and the staff at the Delaware Veterans Home. The 24-hour facility in Milford has 150 beds and has not lost any residents to the coronavirus, according to Carney.
The Wilmington VA Medical Center also received recognition for vaccinating almost 70% of the 25,000 veterans who get their health care there, per Carney.
“The best way to honor the dead is to take care of the living,” said Carney. “And that’s what our military has done over this past year.”
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