U.S. President Joe Biden observed Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery Monday, calling it a "sacred ritual" to reflect on and remember the sacrifices of those men and women who had died while serving in the country's military.
"Today we renew our scared vow. It's a simple vow. To remember," he told a gathering of family members of fallen military personnel.
In the United States, the last Monday in May is observed as Memorial Day, a day to honor service members who died while in the military. Many Americans mark the federal holiday by visiting war memorials or cemeteries and placing flowers on graves.
Biden said the day was also the seventh anniversary of the death of his son Beau Biden, a military veteran. Biden said that though Beau Biden had died from cancer, not in the line of duty, "always on Memorial Day, I see him."
U.S. soldiers have fought for democracy — a cause that has always "required champions," Biden said, noting that it is an ongoing struggle and currently under attack in Ukraine.
"Today, in the perennial struggle for democracy and freedom, Ukraine and its people are on the front lines fighting to save their nation. But their fight is part of a larger fight that unites all people … the battle between democracy and autocracy, between liberty and repression," he said.
While at the cemetery, President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris also laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider to honor service members who died in war but whose remains have not been identified.
In Washington, the Memorial Day Parade returned Monday to Constitution Avenue, after a two-year absence due to the pandemic.
Motorcyclists have been a regular feature of the Memorial Day observance in the capital.
This year, the motorcyclists' event, Rolling to Remember, expanded its mission, saying that its "demonstration ride" Saturday in and around Washington was staged "to raise awareness of the critical issues facing our nation's veterans and demand action for the 82,000 service members missing, as well as raise awareness of the 22 veterans who die by suicide each day."
Many American families also gather and hold picnics on Memorial Day, as it is widely recognized as the beginning of the summer season in the United States.