Pres. Obama, Northwest soldier lay wreaths at Tomb of the Unknowns


by CNN and

Posted on November 11, 2009 at 9:58 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 11 at 2:24 PM

ARLINGTON, Va. - President Barack Obama paid tribute Wednesday to those who have lost their lives in the nation's wars, as well as to the men and women who currently serve.

"There's no tribute, no commemoration, no praise that can truly match the magnitude of your service and your sacrifice," he said in a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, on a rainy, overcast Veterans Day.

"We call this a holiday but for many veterans it's another day of memories that drive them to live their lives each day as best as they possibly can," he said.

"For our troops, it is another day in harm's way. For their families, it is another day to feel the absence of a loved one and the concern for their safety. For our wounded warriors, it is another day of slow recovery. And in this national cemetery, it is another day when grief remains fresh."

He vowed that "America will do right" by its troops.

"To all who served in every battle in every war, we say that it's never too late to say thank you." 

Earlier Wednesday, the president and first lady Michelle Obama also walked through Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, CNN's Jill Dougherty reported. The section is where service members from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are buried.

There, the Obamas stopped to talked to relatives or friends of those who have died.

The president laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in the cemetery. He then stood solemnly as a bugle played Taps. Some onlookers watched from under umbrellas. 

A Northwest soldier also laid one of the five wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Andrew Pike is from Kimberly, Idaho. He was wounded by a sniper in Iraq in 2007.

Pike was ambushed while on foot patrol, and the bullet hit him in the abdomen below his protective vest. No one else was hurt in the attack.

A surgeon was with the platoon and dragged Pike to safety and immediately began treating his wound. He was taken to a military hospital in Germany for treatment and recovery.
Pike's family was at the ceremony. An aunt said they are all very excited. She said it is a huge honor for Andrew.