Obama Honors Fallen Soldiers At Arlington Cemetery

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President Obama honored America's fallen service members on Memorial Day and laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. He then spoke to the crowds gathered there and told the story of one of America's guardians, Travis Manian, and his friend and fellow Naval Academy graduate, Brendan Looney.


Earlier today, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of defense accompanied President Obama to Arlington National Cemetery, where he laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. The president concluded some brief remarks afterwards with the story of a man he described as one of America's guardians, Travis Manion.

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President BARACK OBAMA: The son of a Marine, Travis aspired to follow in his father's footsteps and was accepted by the U.S. Naval Academy. His roommate at the academy was Brendan Looney, a star athlete and born leader from a military family, just like Travis. And the two quickly became best friends, like brothers, Brendan said.

After graduation, they deployed, Travis to Iraq and Brendan to Korea. On April 29th, 2007, while fighting to rescue his fellow Marines from danger, Travis was killed by a sniper. Brendan did what he had to do, he kept going. He poured himself into his SEAL training and dedicated it to the friend that he missed. He married the woman he loved. And his tour in Korea behind him, he deployed to Afghanistan. On September 21st of last year, Brendan gave his own life, along with eight others, in a helicopter crash.

Heartbroken yet filled with pride, the Manions and the Looneys knew only one way to honor their sons' friendship. They moved Travis from his cemetery in Pennsylvania and buried them side by side here at Arlington. Warriors for freedom - reads the epitaph written by Travis's father - brothers forever.

The friendship between 1st Lieutenant Travis Manion and Lieutenant Brendan Looney reflects the meaning of Memorial Day - brotherhood, sacrifice, love of country.

And it is my fervent prayer that we may honor the memory of the fallen by living out those ideals every day of our lives, in the military and beyond. May God bless the souls of the venerable warriors we've lost, and the country for which they died.

CONAN: President Obama on this Memorial Day from Arlington Cemetery in Virginia.

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This is TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

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