Nov. 11 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris marked Veterans Day Saturday with ceremonies and a wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown solider at Arlington National Cemetery.
The administration officials were joined by the leadership of several national veterans service organizations during the ceremony at the Memorial Amphitheater, which got underway following a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance.
"It's fitting that we gather here, at Arlington National Cemetery, on these hallowed rolling hills overlooking our nation's capital," Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough told the assembled crowd in a speech. "With one sweep of the eye we see the cost of freedom in the rows of marble headstones stretching into the distance.
"I am always struck by, and moved by, the veterans carrying these (American) flags. A parade of patriotism, marked with the same pride and precision as when they wore the uniform. We are here to honor them.
"You represent, as the president reminds us, the soul of America," McDonough said.
"We come together today to once again honor the generations of Americans who stood on the frontlines of freedom," Biden said during his speech.
"To once again bear witness to the great deeds of a noble few who risked everything, everything to give us a better future. Those who have always, always kept the light of liberty shining bright across the world, our veterans. That's not hyperbole. Our veterans."
The occasion was also marked by a moment of silence.
"We gather in this sanctuary of sacrifice to pause, to pay tribute to these patriots and the greatest fighting force in the history of the world," Biden told the crowd.
"As Commander in Chief, I have no higher honor. As a father of a son who served, I have no greater privilege. Like so many of you, Veterans Day is personal to Jill and me," he said in a reference to his late son, Beau Biden.
"We miss him. I can still hear my wife Jill...praying over a cup of coffee during the year he was deployed to Iraq, and six months before that he was a civilian overseas," the president said.
Biden has made supporting veterans a pillar of his presidency, including passing the PACT Act, ensuring care for veterans who were exposed to so-called toxic burn pits while on deployment.
Following the ceremony, the president and first lady returned to the White House for a brief gathering, before traveling their home state to visit service members at the Delaware Air National Guard Base in New Castle.
'Folks, as a nation we owe them (veterans). We owe you...for inspiring the next generation to serve," Biden said as he closed his speech.
"We must remember, only one percent of our society today protects 99% of us. We owe them. We owe you...We see you, we stand with you, we will not forget."