Obama urges na­tion to ‘forge unity’ af­ter bit­ter elec­tion

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Dar­lene Superville

AR­LING­TON, VA. >> Three days af­ter Elec­tion Day, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama used his last Vet­er­ans Day speech to urge Amer­i­cans to learn from the ex­am­ple of vet­er­ans as a di­vided na­tion seeks to “forge unity” af­ter the bit­ter 2016 cam­paign.

Obama, in re­marks at Ar­ling­ton Na­tional Ceme­tery, noted that Vet­er­ans Day of­ten comes on the heels of hard-fought cam­paigns that “lay bare dis­agree­ments across our na­tion.”

“But the Amer­i­can in­stinct has never been to find iso­la­tion in op­po­site cor­ners,” Obama said. “It is to find strength in our com­mon creed, to forge unity from our great di­ver­sity, to main­tain that strength and unity even when it is hard.”

He added that now that the elec­tion is over, “as we search for ways to come to­gether, to 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.”

Tues­day’s elec­tion of Repub­li­can Donald Trump led to protests across the coun­try.

Obama noted that the U.S. mil­i­tary is the coun­try’s most di­verse in­sti­tu­tion, com­prised of im­mi­grants and na­tive-born ser­vice members rep­re­sent­ing all re­li­gions and no re­li­gion. He says they are all “forged into com­mon ser­vice.”

With just two months left in his term, Obama also noted how he’s aged over the past eight years.

He read ex­cerpts from an es­say by a mid­dle-schooler who wrote that vet­er­ans are spe­cial be­cause they will de­fend peo­ple re­gard­less of their race, gen­der, hair color or other dif­fer­ences.

“Af­ter eight years in of­fice, I par­tic­u­larly ap­pre­ci­ate that he in­cluded hair color,” Obama quipped.

Turn­ing se­ri­ous again on his fi­nal Vet­er­ans Day as com­man­der in chief, Obama said that “when­ever the world makes you cyn­i­cal, when­ever you doubt that courage and good­ness and self­less­ness is pos­si­ble, then stop and look to a vet­eran.”

“On Vet­er­ans Day, we ac­knowl­edge humbly that we can never serve our vet­er­ans in quite the same way that they served us, but we can try. We can prac­tice kind­ness, we can pay it for­ward, we can vol­un­teer, we can serve, we can re­spect one an­other, we can al­ways get each other’s backs,” he said.

Before speak­ing, the pres­i­dent laid a wreath at the ceme­tery’s Tomb of the Un­knowns. He bowed his head in silent trib­ute before a bu­gler played taps.

Obama also held a break­fast re­cep­tion at the White House with vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies.


Pres­i­dent Barack Obama ar­rives to lay the wreath at the Tomb of the Un­knowns, on Fri­day at Ar­ling­ton Na­tional Ceme­tery in Ar­ling­ton, Va.

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