(WASHINGTON) — President Obama on Friday renewed his call for national unity in the wake of a divisive election, saying in a Veterans Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery that Americans must “find strength in our common creed.”
Speaking after laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Obama noted that Veterans Day “often follows a hard-fought political campaign — an exercise in the free speech and self government that you fought for … [that] often lays bare disagreements across our nation.”
“But the American instinct has never been to find isolation in opposite corners; it is to find strength in our common creed. To forge unity from our great diversity,” the president said.
“And when the election is over as we search for ways to come together, reconnect with one another, and with the principles that are more enduring than transitory politics, some of our best examples are the men and women we salute on Veterans Day,” he added.
Obama cited “the example of a military that meets every mission, one united team, all looking out for one another.”
“It’s the example of the single most diverse institution in our country,” he said. “Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who represent every corner of our country, every share of humanity, immigrants and native-born, Christian, Muslim, Jew and nonbeliever alike. All forged in the common service.”
“Whenever the world makes you cynical, whenever you doubt that courage and goodness and selflessness is possible, then stop and look to a veteran,” he said.
Obama acknowledged that work still needs to be done to honor veterans, such as by addressing wait times at veterans hospitals and veterans’ mental health issues.
But the president pushed against calls to privatize the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, as Trump called for during his campaign.
Honor guards representing veterans from various wars, veterans’ organizations and Gold Star families were among those participating in the event.
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