Arlington National Cemetery Event for Iraqi Liberation Day

As I mentioned, last Friday was Iraq Liberation Day. To help commemorate the day, I addressed a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery where members of American and Iraqi forces, gathered alongside veterans and family of those soldiers who have fallen in support of Iraq’s freedom.

During the ceremony, members of American and Iraqi forces laid wreaths at the joint gravesite of fallen soldiers from the U.S. and Iraq. Ms. Hayyam Sami Mahdi Al-Shather and Ms. Debra Argel-Bastian, whose husband and son, respectively, are buried at the site, attended and spoke at the event. Iraqi Air force Captain Ali Abbas Rubaie, Ms. Al-Shather’s deceased husband, is the only Iraqi buried at Arlington Cemetery.

During her remarks, Ms. Argel-Bastian spoke emotionally about her visit to the Kurdistan Region in 2005. On the trip, she visited the home of a Kurdish widow, who upon seeing a picture of Ms. Argel-Bastian’s son, put it up to a photo of her own son. The Kurdish woman declared both to be her sons—young men whose sacrifices for the Kurdish people made them more family than soldiers.

Other speakers included General Nasier Arkan Abadi, Vice Chief of Staff, Iraqi Joint Forces of the Republic of Iraq; U.S. Brigadier General Judd Lyons, Adjutant General of Nebraska; and Ms. Wendy Hoffman, National President of Blue Star Mothers of America.

This day was an important one to remember and celebrate, as we owe great thanks to those Americans and Iraqis-including and especially Kurds-who have fallen and continue to fight for freedom, democracy and a peaceful future.

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