Obama heralds first U.S. Memorial Day without ground war in 14 years
ARLINGTON, Va. - Reuters
US President Barack Obama (R), Defense Secretary Ashton Carter (C) and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey (L) attend Memorial Day ceremonies on May 25, 2015 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. AFP PhotoPresident Barack Obama heralded the first U.S. Memorial Day in 14 years without a major ground war in an annual ceremony of remembrance on May 25 for fallen American forces.
In remarks at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, Obama paid tribute to U.S. military personnel who served in conflicts such as World War Two as well as the more recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which he wound down as commander in chief.
"For many of us, this Memorial Day is especially meaningful. It is the first since our war in Afghanistan came to an end," Obama said. "Today is the first Memorial Day in 14 years that the United States is not engaged in a major ground war."
As a Democratic presidential candidate in 2008, Obama sharply criticized the war in Iraq launched by his Republican predecessor, former President George W. Bush.
U.S. forces are now involved in air campaigns against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants in Iraq and Syria as well as training missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The president has been reluctant to relaunch ground operations in Iraq.
"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," Obama said.
"But Afghanistan remains a very dangerous place. And as so many families know, our troops continue to risk their lives for us."