Vice President Kamala Harris marked Veterans Day on Friday by hailing the “unshakeable devotion” of men and women in the armed forces, many of whom continue to serve by filling key roles in their communities.
“Even when you returned home and took off your uniform, you continued to serve and to lead in communities across our country,” Ms. Harris said in a rainy ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. “Veterans, after all, are nurses and firefighters, Little League coaches and small-business owners, faith leaders and elected officials, mentors and teachers. Every day, through your life’s work and your example, you make America stronger.”
It is customary for the U.S. president and the secretary of veterans affairs to participate in Veterans Day ceremonies at the hallowed cemetery in Virginia. President Biden was traveling to Egypt and Cambodia on Friday, but acknowledged the holiday in a speech at a U.N. climate summit.
“America’s veterans and their families, survivors and caregivers, are the spine and soul of the United States,” he said.
Veterans Day is a federal holiday observed each year on Nov. 11. It coincides with Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, which other countries observe to mark the anniversary of World War I’s end.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough, also at the Arlington ceremony, called Veterans Day “a call to action to serve vets as every bit as well as they have served us.”
Ms. Harris deemed veterans “the best of America” and laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
“Unwavering courage, unmatched talent and unshakeable devotion. You come from every corner of our country, and out of many you become one — the greatest fighting force in the world,” Ms. Harris said. “You gave up so much to safeguard the lives and the liberty of people you may never meet. To be a veteran is to have truly known the true cost of freedom and to have borne it for all of us. That is a debt that must always be remembered, and I believe it is a debt we must all work to repay.”
Ms. Harris said the administration is working to repay that debt by connecting veterans with job training to build new careers while strengthening the U.S. labor force. She pointed to efforts to solve veteran homelessness by placing 31,000 veterans in permanent housing this year.
“We are on track to house thousands more by year-end,” she said.
Ms. Harris said the VA has made progress in clearing a backlog of claims for health care and hailed a bipartisan effort to help veterans who were exposed to toxic burn pits while serving abroad.