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May 29, 2012
Memorial Day 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama paid tribute Monday to the men and women who have died defending America, pointing to Vietnam veterans as an under-appreciated and sometimes maligned group of war heroes who remained true to their nation despite an unwelcome homecoming.

"You were sometimes blamed for the misdeeds of a few," Obama said at the Vietnam War Memorial. "You came home and were sometimes denigrated when you should have been celebrated. It was a national shame, a disgrace that should have never happened."

"Even though some Americans turned their backs on you, you never turned your back on America," Obama said.

Marking Memorial Day at both the black granite wall honoring more than 58,000 soldiers who died in the Vietnam War and earlier at Arlington National Cemetery across the Potomac River from the capital, Obama noted that for the first time in nine years, "Americans are not fighting and dying in Iraq," and the nation was winding down its role in the conflict in Afghanistan.

(34 images)




Boy Scout Troop #305 member Hunter Lynn carries an American flag along Main Street in Walla Walla, Wash., on Memorial Day, Monday, May 28, 2012. Lynn and other scouts place flags along the streets of downtown Walla Walla and team up every year with members of Jonathan M Wainwright AMVETS Post #1111 to start Memorial Day with a banner display. Walla Walla Union-Bulletin / Jeff Horner
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Cpl. Colby Jones of the California National Guard takes a moment to look over names in the Court of Honor South Mausoleum at Mount Vernon Memorial Park and Mortuary during the 45th Annual Memorial Day Tribute in Fair Oaks. Monday, May 28, 2012 in Sacramento, Calif. lsterling@sacbee.com / Lezlie Sterling
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John Fulford of Sacramento, Calif., an equipment operator in the Navy during the Vietnam War and Desert Shield, sits at the grave of his father at Mount Vernon Memorial Park and Mortuary in Fair Oaks prior to the annual Memorial Day Tribute on Monday. Fulford's father was a WWII and Korean war veteran. lsterling@sacbee.com / Lezlie Sterling
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Susie Udarbe, of Monterey, Calif. pauses amidst rows of American Flags while visiting her father's grave on Memorial Day at Mission Memorial Park in Seaside, Calif. on Monday May 28, 2012. Udarbe said her father Sebastian Udarbe was a World War II and Korean War veteran. Monterey County Herald / David Royal
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Gen. John Allen, center, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, salutes before he observes Memorial Day by reading a letter written by an American soldier to his family before he died earlier this year, at the ISAF headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, May 28, 2012. AP / Anja Niedringhaus
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The grave of U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Michael Harris is seen through an American flag as the the sun rises over Georgia National Cemetery Monday, May 28, 2012, in Canton, Ga. Harris died Feb. 6, 2012, in North Carolina. AP / David Goldman
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Empty shell casings fly out of rifles as members of American Legion Post 19 shoot into the air during a Memorial Day Ceremony at Gateway Park in Yuma, Ariz., Monday morning, May 28, 2012. The Yuma Sun / Josh Peckler
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A Border Patrol color guard listens as Taps is played during a Memorial Day ceremony at Desert Lawn Cemetery in Yuma, Ariz. Monday morning, May 28, 2012. The Yuma Sun / Josh Peckler
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Wreaths are dropped from the Ocean to Ocean bridge into the Colorado River during a Memorial Day Ceremony at Gateway Park in Yuma, Ariz., Monday morning, May 28, 2012. The Yuma Sun / Josh Peckler
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Brittany Jacobs, of Hereford, N.C., watches as her 17 month-old son Christian places a stone on top of his father's, Marine Corps Sgt Christopher Jacobs, grave marker in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Monday, May 28, 2012. AP / Cliff Owen
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Michelle Dunlap, Springfield, kisses the tombstone of her boyfriend, David. C. Beezley who died in 2009 after serving in Army in the 82nd Airborne and doing tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, at the Missouri Veterans Cemetery in Springfield, Mo., Monday, May 28, 2012. Springfield News-Leader / Dean Curtis
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Members of the Lake City Emblem Club, from left, Ethel LaRose, Opal Johnson, Dianne Salmonsen, and Betty Edwards wait to parade during the annual Memorial Day celebration at the Evergreen-Washelli Seattle Veterans' Memorial Cemetery on Monday, May 28, 2012. The event was the 86th annual Memorial Day celebration held at Evergreen-Washelli cemetery. seattlepi.com / Joshua Trujillo
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The Rolling Thunder South Carolina Chapter 3 Sgt. of Arms Chris Panos holds the American Flag at the 2012 Memorial Day ceremony by the Grand Strand Patriotic Alliance at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Monday, May, 28, 2012. The Sun News / Steve Jessmore
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Members of the Special Forces Association Parachute team land in the Market Common during the Military Appreciation Days Closing Ceremony at Valor Memorial Garden in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Monday, May 28, 2012. The Sun News / Steve Jessmore
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The Rolling Thunder South Carolina Chapter 3 member George Aakjer carries the hat representing the Army during the POW/MIA Table missing man ceremony at the 2012 Memorial Day ceremony by the Grand Strand Patriotic Alliance at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Monday, May, 28, 2012. The Sun News / Steve Jessmore
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Todd Brown who plays for the Festive Brass, performs during the 2012 Memorial Day ceremony by the Grand Strand Patriotic Alliance at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Monday, May, 28, 2012. The Sun News / Steve Jessmore
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A color guard made up of Harlingen Fire Department firefighters and Harlingen police officers present the American and Texas flags, as well as flags representing the different military branches during a Memorial Day ceremony at Pendleton Park in Harlingen, Texas on Monday afternoon, May 28, 2012. Valley Morning Star / Dina Arevelo
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A bouquet of flowers in a can wrapped in a photo is seen as visitors pause along the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall on the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, Monday, May 28, 2012, on Memorial Day in Washington. AP / Carolyn Kaster
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President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama at the Vietnam Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, Monday, May 28, 2012. AP / Pablo Martinez Monsivais
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Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, center, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., right, and San Diego Veteran of the year Marine David Dickey stand together during a campaign stop at the Veterans Museum & Memorial Center, Monday, May 28, 2012 in San Diego. AP / Mary Altaffer
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Members of the Peninsula VFW Post 1854 Honor Guard display the colors a at a Memorial Day Service at the Ivy Green Cemetery in Bremerton, Wash., on Monday, May 28, 2012. They are from the left, Ted Streete, retired USMC veteran sergeant major, Dale Goheen, center, a retired U.S. Navy veteran and Bob Cate, right, a retired USMC sergeant major. Kitsap Sun / Larry Steagall
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Krista Whitesitt of Pasco adds a flag Monday, May 28, 2012 to the grave of her husband Roy who died Oct. 28, 2011 and had served in the United State Air Force in Korea, at Desert Lawn Memorial Park in Kennewick, Wash. Ceremonies were held throughout the Tri-Cities to honor and remember veterans. The Tri-City Herald / Paul T. Erickson
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Sheryl Satterthwaite kneels at the grave of her husband, Army Spc. Dennis Satterthwaite, who served during Desert Storm, at Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne, Mass. The Cape Cod Times / Christine Hochkeppel
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Austin Bunyard, 5, squints in the bright sun as he watches veterans salute the American flag during a Memorial Day ceremony on the Rock Island Arsenal in Rock Island, Ill, on Monday, May 28, 2012. (AP Photo/The Dispatch, Paul Colletti) QUAD CITY TIMES OUT The Dispatch / Paul Colletti
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Bill Hall plays Taps as part of the Memorial Day ceremony on the Rock Island Arsenal in Rock Island, Ill, on Monday, May 28, 2012. The Dispatch / Paul Colletti
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Carla Buyes has a tear wiped away by her husband, Michael, after receiving a flag from a member of the Oregon Military Funeral Honors Team during a Memorial Day ceremony at Restlawn Memory Gardens, in,Salem Ore., on Monday, May 28, 2012. Buyes' son, Marine Cpl. Adam Buyes, was killed in Afghanistan in November 2011. Statesman Journal / Timothy J. Gonzalez
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Sierra Cree, 8, puts her arm around her sister Georgia, 7, as they walk the grounds of the Forest Cemetery in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, on Monday, May 28, 2012, following a Memorial Day service. Coeur d'Alene Press / Shawn Gust
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A rose lays atop the gravestone of Army Sgt. Andrew Looney in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Va., Monday, May 28, 2012. AP / Cliff Owen
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Madeline Schneider, of Coral Springs, cries as she rests her head on her husband John's headstone at the South Florida National Cemetery in Lake Worth, Florida, Monday, May 28, 2012. Palm Beach Post / Taylor Jones
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Raquel Bell, of Lantana, sits among the headstones and next to the headstone of fallen friend Harrington Hall during fifth annual Memorial Day ceremony at the South Florida National Cemetery in Lake Worth, Florida, Monday, May 28, 2012. Palm Beach Post / Taylor Jones
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Mickey, left, and Renee Giordano, of Royal Palm Beach, attend the fifth annual Memorial Day ceremony at the South Florida National Cemetery in Lake Worth, Florida, Monday, May 28, 2012. Palm Beach Post / Taylor Jones
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U.S. - Civil War reinactors from the 40th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment fire a 21-gun salute during Memorial Day Ceremonies at Allegheny Cemetery in Lawrenceville, Penna. ZUMA.24.com / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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U.S. - A U.S. Marine takes a photograph of the a large flag display during the Memorial Day event at the Intrepid Air & Space Museum in New York, N.Y. ZUMA.24.com / Bruce Cotler
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Anna Caire places flowers at the headstone of James Caire at the Biloxi National Cemetery in Biloxi, Mississippi. James Caire was a member of the Air Force and was a POW during World War II. Biloxi Sun Herald / Tim Isbell

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