This Memorial Day weekend, Americans will gather on lawns and porches, fire up the grill, and enjoy the company of family, friends, and neighbors. But this is not only a time for celebration, it is also a time to reflect on what this holiday is all about; to pay tribute to our fallen heroes; and to remember the servicemen and women who cannot be with us this year because they are standing post far from home â€“ in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world.
On Friday, I traveled to Annapolis, where I spoke at the Commencement of the United States Naval Academy. It was an honor to address some of Americaâ€™s newest sailors and Marines as their Commander-in-Chief. Looking out at all of those young men and women, I was reminded of the extraordinary service that they are rendering to our country. And I was reminded, too, of all of the sacrifices that their parents, siblings, and loved ones make each day on their behalf and on our behalf.
Our fighting men and women â€“ and the military families who love them â€“ embody what is best in America. And we have a responsibility to serve all of them as well as they serve all of us.
And yet, all too often in recent years and decades, we, as a nation, have failed to live up to that responsibility. We have failed to give them the support they need or pay them the respect they deserve. That is a betrayal of the sacred trust that America has with all who wear â€“ and all who have worn â€“ the proud uniform of our country.
And that is a sacred trust I am committed to keeping as President of the United States. That is why I will send our servicemen and women into harmâ€™s way only when it is necessary, and ensure that they have the training and equipment they need when they enter the theater of war.
That is why we are building a 21st century Department of Veterans Affairs with the largest single-year funding increase in three decades. Itâ€™s a commitment that will help us provide our veterans with the support and benefits they have earned, and expand quality health care to a half million more veterans.
That is why, this week, I signed a bill that will eliminate some of the waste and inefficiency in our defense projects â€“ reform that will better protect our nation, better protect our troops, and save taxpayers tens of billions of dollars.
And that is why we are laying a new foundation for our economy so that when our troops return home and take off the uniform, they can find a good job, provide for their families, and earn a college degree on a Post-9/11 GI Bill that will offer them the same opportunity to live out their dreams that was afforded our greatest generation.