WASHINGTON, May 26 (Xinhua) -- While ending its longest war in Afghanistan, the United States on Monday hosted a ceremony marking the U.S. Memorial Day, a day of remembrance for the men and women who died while serving in the armed forces.
During Memorial Day observances at Arlington National Cemetery, U.S. President Barack Obama said that while it is fitting to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice on Memorial Day, it is also a time to remember those most directly affected by their deaths.
The U.S. president placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns and then spoke to an audience of more than 3,000 people, including members of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors -- many of them children, in the Memorial Amphitheatre.
Obama noted that Arlington Cemetery itself is marking its 150th anniversary this year. Founded to bury the thousands of Union dead from the Overland Campaign in Virginia, the cemetery has become the place where Americans came here to pay tribute to the legions of the dead started with the country's Civil War and following wars to the present day.
The president just returned from a surprise visit to U.S. troops in Afghanistan hours before he delivered the speech.
"Our troops are coming home. By the end of this year, our war in Afghanistan will finally come to an end, " he said, adding that the war claimed the lives of nearly 2,200 American soldiers.