Obama honors Vietnam War veterans

Beginning a yearlong commemoration of the 50th anniversary of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, President Obama on Saturday called on Americans to thank veterans of that war during this weekend’s Memorial Day observances.

“It’s another chance to honor those we lost at places like Hue, Khe Sanh, Danang and Hamburger Hill,” Mr. Obama said in his weekly address. “Even as we honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice, we reaffirm our commitment to care for those who served alongside them — the veterans who came home.”

Mr. Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will join veterans, Gold Star families and others Monday at Arlington National Cemetery for a wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns. The Obamas also will host a breakfast at the White House to honor Gold Star families.

More than 58,000 U.S. service members died in the Vietnam War, and more than 1,600 are still listed as missing.

In his address, Mr. Obama said the nation will pay tribute this weekend to America’s patriots who served in conflicts from Lexington to Afghanistan.

** FILE ** President Obama, with Maj. Gen. Karl Horst (left), commander of the U.S. Army's Military District of Washington, places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns during a Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on Monday, May 30, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

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** FILE ** President Obama, with Maj. Gen. Karl Horst (left), commander ... more >

“Our men and women in uniform took an oath to defend our country at all costs, and today, as members of the finest military the world has ever known, they uphold that oath with dignity and courage,” the president said. “We have to serve them and their families as well as they have served us: By making sure that they get the health care and benefits they need; by caring for our wounded warriors and supporting our military families; and by giving veterans the chance to go to college, find a good job and enjoy the freedom that they risked everything to protect.”

He said Memorial Day is an important opportunity to let veterans and their families know they are not alone.

“We give thanks for those who sacrificed everything so that we could be free,” Mr. Obama said. “And we commit ourselves to upholding the ideals for which so many patriots have fought and died.”

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