After participating in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, Joe Biden delivered remarks to commemorate Memorial Day.
“Today, we renew our sacred vow. It’s a simple vow. To remember. To remember. Memorial Day is always a day where pain and pride are mixed together. We all know it, sitting here. Jill and I know it. Today is the day our son died. Folks, for those who have lost a loved one in the service of our country, if your loved one is missing or unaccounted for, I know the ceremonies reopen that black hole in the center of your chest that just pulls you in, suffocates you.
. . .
“Days like this bring back before your eyes their smile and their laugh. The last conversation you had. Each of you know it. The hurt can be overwhelming. But for so many of you, as is with Jill and me, the hurt is wrapped around the knowledge that your loved one was part of something bigger — bigger than any of us. They chose a life of purpose.
“They had a mission, and above all they believed in duty, they believed in honor, they believed in their country, and still today we are free because they were brave.
“As hard as it is for many to believe, especially those whose loss is still raw, I promise you the day will com when the memory of your loved one, your patriot, will bring a smile to your lip before it brings a tear to your eye. That’s when you know you’re going to make it.”
Biden emphasized the nation’s duty to take care of those left behind, and spoke about legislation to help veterans who have become ill or died after exposure to burn pits during the Iraq War and to provide benefits to their survivors.
Without specifically mentioning the 13 who died in Afghanistan since last Memorial Day, Biden spoke of the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan “conflicts”:
7,054 American military members gave their lives over the 20 years of our Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Untold others died of injuries and illness connected to their service in these wars, and the enduring grief borne by the survivors is a cost of war that we’ll carry as a nation forever.
While Biden’s words strike the right notes, for those who lost a loved one either in battle in a foreign country or to the battle that loved one continued to fight in their soul after they physically returned stateside, they ring hollow.
I’ve often said that as a nation we have many obligations. The only one that is truly sacred, the only truly sacred obligation we have is to prepare and equip those women and men we send into harms way and care for them and their families when they return home, and when they don’t. This is an obligation that unites Americans, that brings us together, to make sure the women and men who were willing to lay down their lives for us get the very best from us in return.
I’ve tried to be respectful while covering these remarks because of the occasion and location of the remarks, and to not take issue with Biden’s comments, but I must take issue with what he said above. According to his own words, Biden intentionally failed a “truly sacred obligation” by not preparing and equipping those he sent to Kabul last summer, by setting them up for failure and condemning 13 to death in a terrorist attack, and by leaving equipment behind for the enemy. For Biden to give these remarks in Arlington after that failure is disrespectful to that sacrifice.