To commemorate the day when America remembers those who gave their lives while serving in the U.S. armed forces, President Barack Obama will attend a Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremony at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia to honor the anonymously fallen, as reported by the Associated Press.
The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. EDT, and it will be live-streamed by a few media outlets, including CNN.
During the ceremony, Obama will lay a wreath at the cemetery's Tomb of the Unknowns, which is a monument dedicated to all U.S. military personnel who died in the country's wars without being identified.
The ceremony ties in nicely with Obama's campaign themes in advance of November's presidential election. Last week, he credited the troops for their effort in helping locate and kill Osama bin Laden, and he has long emphasized the desire to bring U.S. soldiers home from Iraq and Afghanistan. His Memorial Day message will likely be similar: Let's "return the favor" by bringing home our children, so we don't need to add more graves.
Along a similar line, Obama said in his weekly online and radio address on Saturday: "We have to serve [our veterans] and their families as well as they have served us: By making sure that they get the health care and benefits they need; by caring for our wounded warriors and supporting our military families; and by giving veterans the chance to go to college, find a good job, and enjoy the freedom that they risked everything to protect."
Many analysts believe veterans could play a major role in this year's presidential election. In 2008, exit polls indicated 44 percent of voters who served in the military voted for then U.S. Sen. Obama, D-Ill., while 54 percent voted for U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who is a former Navy pilot and, more famously, a prisoner of war for more than five years during the Vietnam War.
On Monday, Mitt Romney -- the Republican Party's presumptive presidential nominee -- is scheduled to appear with McCain in San Diego, which is home to a large number of military veterans and active-duty personnel. During his campaign, Romney has argued that too many veterans return home from their service to find too few employment prospects. For that, Romney blames Obama's economic policies and the nation's stunted job growth resulting from them.
In March, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that more than 12 percent of American military veterans that served on active duty following September 2001 were unemployed 10 years later. The unemployment rate for all U.S. military veterans was 8.3 percent, as of three months ago.
Several military-heavy states could sway November's election. Florida has more than 1.6 million veterans, Pennsylvania has nearly 1 million vets, while North Carolina and Virginia each have roughly 800,000 vets, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Before the president headed to Arlington National Cemetery on Monday, Obama and his wife, first lady Michelle Obama, had breakfast at the White House with a few select families that had lost loved ones in combat.
Memorial Day was first observed back in 1868 when it was called "Decoration Day," which was a day set aside to honor the 600,000 U.S. men and women who died in the Civil War. Millions more have served since, any many have not come back.
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