(CNN) — President Barack Obama observed during remarks at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday that this year is the first Memorial Day in 14 years “that the United States is not engaged in a major ground war.”
Saying that for “many of us, this Memorial Day is especially meaningful,” Obama noted the winding down of America’s combat mission in Afghanistan.
“On this day we honor the sacrifice of thousands of American service members — men and women who gave their lives since 9/11, including more than 2,200 American patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan,” he said.
He later added that many Americans don’t fully witness the sacrifices veterans make for their country: “The sacrifice that preserves the freedoms we too often take for granted.”
“Few know what it’s like to take a bullet for a buddy or to live with the fact that he or she took one for you,” he said.