Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages
In what was his second address on Memorial Day, President Obama marked the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Vietnam War by paying tribute to the troops who fought there and were “sometimes denigrated” when they returned home. He pointed to Vietnam veterans as an under-appreciated group that were often criticized when they should have been celebrated for serving their country, reports the Associated Press.
"You were sometimes blamed for the misdeeds of a few," Obama said at the Vietnam War Memorial. “It was a national shame, a disgrace that should have never happened,” reports ABC News. Obama vowed that “it will never happen again.”
Earlier in the day, Obama paid tribute to fallen U.S. troops at Arlington National Cemetery, where he said the country “can see the light of a new day on the horizon” now that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are winding down. The president said that sending troops “into harm’s way is the most wrenching decision that I have to make” and vowed that “I will never do so unless it is absolutely necessary,” reports Reuters.
The president took part in the traditional laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns and told military families the country must aim “to be a nation worthy of your sacrifice,” reports the Associated Press. Before Obama spoke, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that the men and women buried in the cemetery “are a constant reminder that freedom is not free.”