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Crystal Gateway Marriott

Arlington, Virginia

10:29 A.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  What an amazing sight, a roomful of heroes.  (Applause.)  Karen and I are very humbled to be with you today.  And thank you for such a wonderful, warm welcome.  And you could give one more round of applause to the Second Lady of the United States — (applause) — she’s a teacher, she’s a Marine Corps mom, and we love TAPS.

Let me also invite a round of applause for Landon and Liam Gilbert.  Awesome jobs, guys.  (Applause.)  Wow.  Up high, can you give me some?  Right here.  Great job.  Really great job.

To General Dempsey, to Bonnie Carroll — (applause) — you know, Bonnie Carroll and the whole TAPS team — think about it, for 24 years this organization has come alongside the families who have lost a family member in the service of the United States of America in uniform.  More than 75,000 people have found comfort and found community through this awesome organization.  Would you all mind getting back on your feet again and showing Bonnie Carroll and the whole team at TAPS just how much you appreciate their love and their leadership.  (Applause.)

Well, to all the men and women of our armed forces who are here, to all of our veterans most especially — most especially to all of the Gold Star Families, the survivors who are here — I’ve just — speaking backstage to a few families and I reminded them that your loved one is an American hero but your families are all American heroes.  And the American people cherish, and love, and are grateful to our Gold Star Families.  (Applause.)

And it is a joy for me to be here at the Good Grief Camp — (applause) — 24th Annual TAPS National Military Survivor celebration.  On behalf of the President of the United States, welcome back to Washington, D.C.  (Applause.)  It’s an honor to have your family in our nation’s capital.

And the President is at the Naval Academy today, but I know his heart is here with all of you.  And I want to bring greetings, and gratitude, and respect from the President of the United States, President Donald Trump.

The message that we have for you today, simply, is a message that every American would express to all of you as we enter into this Memorial Day weekend, and that is: The American people will always, always remember your loved one.  Their names, their service will always be enshrined in the hearts of a grateful nation.  And the American people will always remember the courageous families who stood with them and stand for them throughout your lives.  We are with you.  We love you.  And we are grateful to all of our Gold Star Families.  (Applause.)

It is Memorial Day weekend.  It’ll be a nice long weekend at the beginning of the summer but I want to assure you, all across this country, from coast to coast, Americans in big cities and small towns will pause.  Your loved one’s duty was to serve; our duty is to remember.  And I want to assure you that the American people will be remembering.  They’ll pause, they’ll break away from picnics and festivities, they’ll bow a head and they’ll pray, and they’ll be grateful.

So as you enjoy this wonderful weekend, just know that we all know that for you, every day is Memorial Day.  And you’re on the hearts of the American people.

Let me say thank you to — especially to these mentors who are with us today.  Would the mentors mind just standing up and letting — give us a chance just to thank these incredible mentors that have come alongside our family with your love and with your support.  (Applause.)

We appreciate you so much.  I know the team at TAPS — but I want to say, the American people appreciate our mentors in the way you’ve come alongside.  You’ve brought your own experiences in many cases.  You bought your own experience there to be a comfort and be an encouragement to families.  And you have our thanks, and you have our admiration, and our respect.

And let me also assure you that the American people this weekend will pause, will “mourn with those who mourn,” will grieve with those who grieve, as the Good Book says, but we will “not grieve…like those who have no hope,” because heroes give us hope.

And even on this Memorial Day, as we remember your loved ones, and we remember all of those who have fallen in the uniform of the United States, their courage, their sacrifice lived out in the words that “no greater love has a man than this, that he should lay down his life for his friends.”  Your loved one inspired the nation by their service and sacrifice.  (Applause.)

And the truth is, this camp and all the TAPS organization is just a small payment on a debt that this country will never be able to repay.  Right, Bonnie?  We’ll never be able to repay.  But your loved one — what your families have done for this country, this great nation.

But let me just assure you that, at this camp, for those of you that are new to it, that you’re going to be able to find community.  You’re going to be able to find encouragement.

We talked this morning, to some camp veterans who have been coming here for more than 10 years.  So we just want to encourage you to know that the American people are with you and the people here at TAPS are with you.  These mentors are with you.  And we’re going to stay with you every step of the way.

So I close today, telling you that I wish you could see what I see from this podium because it’s deeply humbling and deeply inspiring to see your shining faces, to see the love of these mentors who have come alongside your families, just warms — it warms my heart as an American.  Truly does.

You all come from the rest of us, but you’re the best of us — our Gold Star Families who are here and all of you that are supporting them.  And so, you have our thanks.

We’ll leave here today with faith.  Faith in America and confidence of our future.  It’s born out of a few things.  First and foremost, our faith in America comes from us remembering the courage and the sacrifice of your loved one — their willingness to step forward and consider others more important than themselves, to make their lives about something bigger than themselves.

It’s been true throughout American history we’ve had men and women who have stepped forward and served, and your loved one, your family member is among that long line of heroes.  And it gives us confidence about our future.

My faith is encouraged by the example of all of you who have gone on — who have lived on in your families now, enduring loss but demonstrating the courage of your loved one to keep going and keep growing.  Just like they’d want you to.  Right.

It’s encouraged — and my faith is nurtured and encouraged by the love and the support of the mentors and all the people that have come alongside you here.  And the absolute confidence that, from the President of the United States, to all the leaders of this country serving at every level of government, that we cherish you, we’re grateful for you, and we’ll always be there for your families.

And lastly, I leave here with faith that, as the Bible says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.”  That “he will bind up your wounds.”  “He will wipe every tear from your eyes.”  And my prayer and confidence is that, in this weekend, in this experience here at this Good Grief Camp, and this great organization, TAPS, you will find the comfort and the courage, and the support, and the community to press on and make your loved one, who looks on, proud.  And I know you will.

So thank you.  God bless you.  God bless your families.  And God bless the United States of America.  We’re honored to be with you.  (Applause.)


10:39 A.M. EDT