President Biden suffered an embarrassing moment of confusion at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as he stumbled through a Veterans Day service.
The President, 80, needed stage directions from an Arlington Honor Guard after laying a ceremonial wreath, taking several steps in the wrong direction before he was pointed to his spot next to Vice-President Kamala Harris.
Biden then delivered a speech on the ‘ultimate sacrifice’ of American troops, acknowledging escalating global tensions as he praised how ‘Americans stand watch around the world, often with great personal peril.’
‘War and conflict, death and loss, are not relics of our American history – they’re part of our American story.’
As Biden spoke, hundreds of pro-Palestine demonstrators descended on his Delaware mansion to protest the US support for Israel in the conflict in the Middle East.
Biden was joined at Arlington National Cemetary by Harris, First Lady Jill Biden and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff to celebrate the armed services.
Speaking before members of the Armed Forces and Gold Star families, Biden began: ‘Here in Arlington lie heroes who gave what President Lincoln called ‘the last full measure of devotion.’
‘They did not only die at Gettysburg or in Flanders Field on the beaches of Normandy, but in the mountains of Afghanistan, the deserts of Iraq in the last 20 years.
‘Hundreds of graves are here from recent conflicts. Hundreds of patriots gave their all, each of them leaving behind a family who live with their pain and their absence every single day.’
He added that veterans are the ‘steel spine of this nation’, and recounted famous battles that saw soldiers ‘linked in a chain of honor that stretches back to our founding days.’
‘Each one bound by a sacred oath to support and defend. Not a place, not a person, not a president, but an idea, to defend an idea unlike any other in human history,’ he said.
‘That idea is the United States of America.’
BREAKING: Hundreds of pro-Palestine protesters are reportedly marching towards President Joe Biden’s Delaware home as they accuse him of genocide.
“President Biden, you can’t hide! We charge you with genocide!” the angry mob shouted.
The protest lines up perfectly as Biden is… pic.twitter.com/QdJv7mzazp
— Collin Rugg (@CollinRugg) November 11, 2023
Biden revealed a card from his jacket that he said he has carried with him since he was vice-president, which has an updated number of US soldiers who have died in recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
‘Today, that number is 7,036,’ he said. ‘7,036 fallen angels who have lost their lives in these conflicts.
‘This Memorial Day, we honor their legacy and their sacrifice, duty, honor to their country.’
Saturday’s service was the 70th annual National Veterans Day Observance at Arlington, and followed a private reception in the White House East Room for veterans and military officials.
At the same time as his remarks, Biden’s Delaware mansion became the subject of a huge protest over the war in the Middle East.
Dozens of Palestinian flags were seen waving outside his sprawling estate, alongside signs calling for an end to the US funding of Israel after the war-torn nation’s retaliatory strikes against Hamas have killed at least 11,000 people in Gaza.
On Monday, Biden also spoke of the role of America’s military might around the world, urging Americans to honor the troops for defending democracy as it is ‘in peril here at home and around the world.’
‘What we do now, how we honor the memory of the fallen will determine whether or not democracy will long endure,’ he said.
Biden also appeared to remark on growing fears his likely 2024 election rival Donald Trump could again contest the results of an election, as he argued that ‘Democracy thrives when the infrastructure of democracy is strong.’
The political theme extended into his speech at Arlington on Saturday, where he stressed the important of the ‘right to vote freely and fairly and conveniently.’
‘We were built on an idea, the idea of liberty and opportunity for all,’ Biden continued.
‘We’ve never fully realized that aspiration of our founding’, he argued, adding that each ‘generation has opened the door a little wider.’