President Obama lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery Monday morning, a Memorial Day tradition, before delivering an address to the nation — just a week after his landmark counterterrorism speech brought both praise and criticism.
Memorial Day observes the sacrifices made by soldiers who fought for the US. The first observance of the holiday, called Decoration Day, was at Arlington cemetery in 1868, three years after the American Civil War.
The President spoke Saturday about the nation's veterans, who he called the "1 percent of the American people (who) bear the burden of our defense."
"They are heroes, each and every one," Obama said. "They gave America the most precious thing they had, the last full measure of devotion. And because they did, we are who we are today: a free and prosperous nation, the greatest in the world."
The three-day weekend is also considered the unofficial beginning of the summer season — many Americans use the opportunity to camp, go to the beach, or spend time with family.