Memorial Day has a very special meaning in the United States. The day has primarily been set aside for people to remember and pay honor to all the individuals in our military who gave their lives for the country. This includes people from wars and conflicts very far in the past. Memorial Day has also become a time to honor the military service members who managed to make it back home after spending time fighting or helping people overseas. It is a solemn day that is not without controversy for some since so many questions remain around why the United States became involved in certain parts of the world even right now.
It has become tradition for the highest leaders in the country and other prominent figures to give speeches or hold events that bring attention to Memorial Day, fallen heroes and surviving veterans. President Barack Obama decided to give a speech on Memorial Day in Virginia at the Arlington National Cemetery. The speech was intended to be uplifting. It was also focused on drawing attention to the plight of many soldiers who are returning home and having difficulty readjusting to civilian society in different ways. His speech was met with some criticism from all sides of the political spectrum.
President Obama first paid tribute to the men and women who died during the Korean War. Memorial Day was the 60th anniversary of the war where United States soldiers attempted to fight back North Korea as it tried to spread Soviet-style totalitarianism into South Korea. He spoke of the 36,000 people who died there. President Obama then turned to talking about the over 8,000 military members who were somehow lost on the battlefields without clear explanations. He spoke of the sacrifice of those people and the families many left behind to serve the country and fight for freedom.
President Obama decided to start speaking about the current conflicts taking place in the world. He went into detail about the veterans returning home with injuries of all types. Many are finding it hard to adjust to the world back home. The state of the Veterans’ Affairs Administration was mentioned. Veterans are having an increasingly difficult time getting proper care. It can be next to impossible due to long wait lines, understaffing and underfunding. His speech went over many of the challenges that veterans face such as finding employment in the current economy and being accepted by people who might not understand the scars war leaves behind on an individual.
The speech did not really go into everything that is happening today affecting active duty military members. The president did not mention many various places in the Middle East where United States soldiers are fighting such as in Syria, Yemen and Libya. There was only mention of Afghanistan. The president chose not to talk about how many of the recent military conflicts in the Middle East were ineffective allowing groups like the Taliban and the Islamic State to seize control of areas even outside of the region.
What many hoped to hear was a speech that ended with a call to change the way that the United States is currently handling the complicated conflicts taking place all around the world. There was hope that a new and better strategy might be spoken about that preserves the lives of military members, makes a difference and changes the long pattern of conflict the country has been engaged in for decades. That did not happen and it might not have been an appropriate time according to some. President Obama’s speech did still resonate and called on people to “do better” when it comes to caring for the veterans returning from military conflicts overseas.