(CNN)President Joe Biden commemorated those who died serving in the military in Memorial Day remarks at Arlington National Cemetery and urged Americans to honor the fallen by strengthening and protecting the nation’s democracy.
“Democracy itself is in peril, here at home and around the world. What we do now — what we do now, how we honor the memory of the fallen will determine whether or not democracy will long endure,” Biden said.
The President said: “We owe the honored dead a debt we can never fully repay. We owe them our whole souls. We owe them our full best efforts to perfect the union for which they died.”
Biden said the nation must honor the sacrifices of generations of service members “by sustaining the best of America while honestly confronting all that we must do to make our nation fuller, freer and more just.”
“Empathy is the fuel of democracy,” the President said. “Our willingness to see each other not as enemies, neighbors, even when we disagree, to understand what the other is going through.”
He spoke of the rising wave of autocratic rule across the world and argued, as he often does, that “liberation, opportunity, justice are far more likely to come to pass in an democracy than an autocracy.”
“This nation was built on an idea, the only nation in the world built on an idea. Every other nation is built on ethnicity, geography, religion, etcetera. We were built on an idea, the idea of liberty, an opportunity for all,” Biden said.
He continued: “We’ve never fully realized that aspiration of our founding, but every generation has opened the door a little wider and every generation has opened it wider and wider to be more inclusive.”
Biden said the diversity of the nation and its armed forces has been “an incredible strength,” and noted Americans of all backgrounds, races, identities and sexual orientations have sacrificed their lives
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