President Barack Obama celebrated a major milestone today, heralding the first Memorial Day in 14 years that didn’t coincide with a significant ground war.
Speaking at the Arlington National Cemetery, Obama honored U.S. military troops who had served in the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which ended with him as commander in chief, and also soldiers who had served in World War Two and the Vietnam War.
“For many of us, this Memorial Day is especially meaningful. It is the first since our war in Afghanistan came to an end,” said Obama at today’s ceremony. “Today is the first Memorial Day in 14 years that the United States is not engaged in a major ground war.”
Obama had been a staunch critic of the war against terrorism when he had ran against former President George W. Bush in the 2008 elections, and had recently shown hesitation to re-launch ground operations in Iraq, amid ongoing air campaigns in both Iraq and Syria.
“Today, fewer than 10,000 troops remain on a mission to train and assist Afghan forces. We’ll continue to bring them home and reduce our forces further, down to an embassy presence by the end of next year,” he continued. “But Afghanistan remains a very dangerous place. And as so many families know, our troops continue to risk their lives for us.”