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Biden Celebrates First Veterans Day in Two Decades Without War

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“I want to say clearly to all of our veterans, if you’re having a hard time — you’re so used to never asking for anything — reach out if you’re having a hard time,” Biden said. ‘If you have trouble thinking about things. It’s no different than if you had a wound in your arm.”

As he has often done in previous speeches, Mr. Biden recalled his own son’s service in the military. A major in the Delaware National Guard, Beau Biden spent a year in Iraq before returning to the United States and later succumbing to brain cancer.

“Our grandchildren learned what it meant to have their father in a war zone instead of at home for a year by putting them to bed and reading that story every night,” the president said. “Thousands of Americans, tens of thousands, have had that experience.”

But he spent more time honoring the story of the first American fighter of World War I who was buried at the Tomb of the Unknowns exactly 100 years ago.

During Mr. Biden’s comments, he recalled the soldier’s journey from the battlefield in France to lying in state at the Capitol in the same place Abraham Lincoln had previously.

“He was accompanied from the Capitol by the President of the United States, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, members of Congress, General Pershing, the Chiefs of Staff, Medal of Honor recipients,” recalled Mr. Biden, adding: “The first unknown now lies with his brethren, unnamed warriors of later wars, fellow patriots who took up the mantle of honor.”

Before speaking, Mr. Biden took part in the annual ceremony at the graveside, laying a wreath and saluting as a bugler tapped.

Afterward, he urged Americans to “solemnly awe at such fidelity, because in order to remain loyal to American veterans, we must never forget exactly what we have been given.”

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