Obama, Romney Honor Veterans On Memorial Day

Americans marked Memorial Day across the country on Monday. Melissa Block details services held at Arlington Cemetery and the Vietnam War Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., that were attended by President Barack Obama. There was also a tribute in San Diego featuring GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

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BLOCK: At Arlington National Cemetery this morning, the sorrowful notes of "Taps" honored those who have died in service to the country. As part of the traditional ceremony at Arlington, President Barack Obama laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. And this afternoon, at the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, the president marked a milestone - 50 years since the start of the Vietnam War.

The war escalated over many years, but the Pentagon chose this year to mark the 50th anniversary. In front of the black granite wall engraved with names of the war dead, Mr. Obama called on Americans to honor those veterans by not forgetting the lessons of that war.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Let us resolve that when America sends our sons and daughters into harm's way, we will always give them a clear mission, we will always give them a sound strategy, we will give them the equipment they need to get the job done, we will have their backs.

BLOCK: At just about the same time that the president was speaking, Mitt Romney paid tribute in San Diego. At the Veterans' Museum and Memorial Center, he warned against shrinking the military and honored the service of the nation's oldest veterans.

MITT ROMNEY: As the greatest generation sees its light slowly fading, our duty is to take up the torch they carried so gallantly, so bravely, with such great sacrifice. It's a torch of freedom, of decency, of hope, democracy.

BLOCK: In other parts of the country today, there were somber services and, of course, parades.

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BLOCK: Several thousand people gathered for an annual parade through downtown Columbia, Missouri. Among them, Thomas LaHue(ph). He wore his Missouri National Guard uniform and spoke about the meaning of Memorial Day.

THOMAS LAHUE: I have my father served in World War II. My brother served in Vietnam. My other brother served with me in the National Guard. And just seeing all the retirees and the people that's in the military, they are returning the salute when I salute them, which is nice. God bless America.

BLOCK: That's Thomas LaHue in Columbia, Missouri, one of many marking Memorial Day around the country today.

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