President Obama Makes Memorial Day Visit to Arlington National Cemetery

Obama at Arlington. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images) Photo: Mark Wilson/2012 Getty Images

President Obama made his traditional Memorial Day visit to Arlington National Cemetery this afternoon where, accompanied by Michelle, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin E. Dempsey, he placed a wreath at the at the cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknowns. Beforehand, he addressed a crowd of several hundred people, many of whom were relatives of members of the military killed in combat.

“I cannot begin to fully understand your loss,” the president said. “As a father, I cannot begin to imagine what it’s like to hear that knock on the door and learn that your worst fears have come true. But as commander in chief, I can tell you that sending our troops into harm’s way is the most wrenching decision that I have to make.”

His speech included the promise to honor the sacrifices of American troops by striving to create a country more "fair and equal" and "peaceful and free." In that vein, he remarked on the recent end of the Iraq war, and noted that, "We are winding down the war in Afghanistan and our troops will continue to come home. After a decade under the dark cloud of war, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon."