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US Honors War Dead on Memorial Day

World War II Army veteran Jimmy Bishop, Jr., 87, of Old Bridge, N.J., reacts as he looks at the names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial for the first time on Sunday, May 25, 2014.
The United States is honoring those who died in military service with the annual Memorial Day holiday.

The observance Monday includes parades and other events in cities and towns across the country.

At Arlington National Cemetery, just outside Washington, President Barack Obama is scheduled to take part in a wreath-laying ceremony and give an address.

Ahead of the holiday, Obama spoke to troops Sunday in Afghanistan, noting that military gains there have "come at a heavy price."

"At bases here in Afghanistan and towns across America, we will pause and we'll pay tribute to all those who’ve laid down their lives for our freedom. And that includes nearly 2,200 American patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice, that last, full measure of devotion, right here in Afghanistan. I know you’ve stood in front of those battle crosses. I know many of you carry the memories of your fallen comrades in your heart today. We will honor every single one of them -- not just tomorrow, but forever," said Obama.

Earlier Sunday, thousands of motorcycle riders rolled through Washington for the annual Rolling Thunder rally to call attention to prisoners of war and those missing in action.

Many Americans have the day off from work and school, and the three-day weekend is seen as the unofficial start of the summer vacation season. Many families have picnics or make trips to the beach, parks or campgrounds.