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Obama Honors War Dead on Memorial Day


President Barack Obama has paid tribute to fallen American military personnel, saying they sacrificed all so the nation might know peace, opportunity and freedom.

Mr. Obama made the remark Monday on his first Memorial Day national holiday as president.

He attended a solemn event at Arlington National Cemetery, where more than 300,000 people, including veterans from all the nation's wars, are buried. The cemetery, with its gently sloping lawns and rows of white headstones, is a short drive from the White House.

The president said military personnel represent the best in America, willingly risking their lives for the defense of the country and for people they have never met.

Before delivering the remarks, the president laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Three unknown servicemen are buried at the marble structure.

Parades, ceremonies and other special events are being held across the United States for Memorial Day. The Department of Veterans Affairs says nearly one-million Americans have died in military service to the country.

Memorial Day also is the unofficial start of the summer season, and many Americans spend the day enjoying barbecues and other outdoor activities.

On Sunday, thousands of motorcycle riders from around the country rallied in Washington for a tribute to military veterans. The "Rolling Thunder" participants gather in the nation's capital each year to draw attention to the cases of missing U.S. military personnel and urge greater support for veterans' causes.

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