President Joe Biden marked his first Veterans Day as commander-in-chief Thursday by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, 100 years to the day that the nation's most revered military monument was dedicated.
In remarks delivered at the adjacent Arlington National Cemetery amphitheater, Biden vowed to uphold the "sacred" commitment of caring for veterans after they returned home from war.
"We have many obligations, but only one truly sacred obligation — to properly prepare those and equip those we send into harm's way, tend and care for their families while they're both deployed and when they return home. This is a lifetime sacred commitment," Biden said.
Biden added that U.S. veterans were links in a "proud chain of patriots" dating back to the Revolutionary War, noting that they are the "spine" of America.
"It's a badge of courage that unites across all ages regardless of background because to be a veteran is to endure and survive challenges that most Americans will never know," he said.
Prior to his remarks Thursday, Biden participated in a solemn wreath-laying ceremony in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Thursday marked the 100th anniversary of its original interment in 1921.
Following World War I, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was constructed at the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery. Upon its completion in 1921, a still unidentified soldier who had been killed in France during the war was selected to forever serve as the "Unknown Soldier."
In November 1921, the body of the unknown soldier was returned from France to the U.S. For two days, the soldier's casket lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda.
On Nov. 11, 1921, the soldier's body was taken from the Capitol to Arlington National Cemetery with a complete joint honors procession. Following the solemn procession, the casket was interred in the tomb, where it remains today.
On Thursday morning, Arlington National Cemetery recreated the full military procession and aerial flyover that the first unknown soldier received 100 years ago upon his interment in the tomb.
Unidentified soldiers from World War II and the Korean War have since been interred at the tomb.