|President Bush pauses during his speech marking Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery|
A lone bugler stood amid the seemingly endless rows of headstones at Arlington National Cemetery. Slowly, the mournful notes of Taps filled the air.
On this bright late spring morning, the president of the United States laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. It was a tribute not just to the unnamed soldiers buried inside, but all the military fallen who have been laid to rest in the hallowed ground of America's national military cemetery and beyond.
"All who are buried here understood their duty. All stood to protect America. And all carried with them memories of a family that they hope to keep safe by their sacrifice," he said.
In formal remarks at an amphitheater near the tomb, the president paid tribute to the heroes of past wars, as well as those fighting today in, what he called, America's new war, the war on terrorism.
He said for those who have lost loved ones in Afghanistan and Iraq, this is a Memorial Day of last letters and fresh tears. Mr. Bush said because of the men and women they mourn, freedom is on the march and America is more secure.
"And we must honor them by completing the mission for which they gave their lives, by defeating the terrorists, advancing the cause of liberty, and building a safer world," he said.
President Bush said America can take comfort in knowing that those who are serving freedom's cause understand their purpose, and its price.
He looked out at the acres of small, white headstones and said to count the graves is to tally the cost of freedom. He said the American people will always pay tribute to their military fallen, stressing long after they are gone they will be remembered by a grateful nation.