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President Barack Obama speaks Monday in the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP)
ARLINGTON, Va – . – President Obama on Monday paid tribute to those who have served in the nation’s military, including one of the nation’s oldest veterans, 107-year-old Richard Overton.
“This is the life of one American veteran, living proud and strong in the land he helped keep free,” Obama said during a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
Overton rose slowly and stood to loud applause when Obama mentioned his name, then stood a second time at the president’s request and drew more applause.
He was among hundreds attending the outdoor ceremony on a crisp, sunny Veteran’s Day. Earlier Monday, Overton and other veterans attended a breakfast at the White House.
Obama used his remarks to remind the nation that thousands of service members are still at war in Afghanistan. The war is expected to formally conclude at the end of next year, though the U.S. may keep a small footprint in the country.
Soon, “the longest war in America’s history will end,” Obama declared.
As the 12-year-old war draws down, Obama said the nation has a responsibility to ensure that the returning troops are the “best cared-for and best respected veterans in the world.” The country’s obligations to those who served “endure long after the battle ends,” he said.
As president, Obama said he wanted to see the “best cared-for and best respected veterans in the world.”
Obama also noted that it has now been 60 years since the end of the fighting in Korea.
“We join as one people to honor a debt we cannot fully repay,” he said.