Obama leads country in celebrating Memorial Day

A soldier walks past the grave of Iraq War veteran U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Jeffery Blanton on Memorial Day, Monday, May 26, 2014, at Marietta National Cemetery in Marietta, Ga. Blanton was killed Dec. 2 by enemy action in Anbar province, Iraq, two days after being released from a hospital where he was treated for an earlier gunshot wound. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama is leading the nation in remembering its war heroes, the fallen and those still defending the flag, in a Memorial Day tribute.

The president, just back from a surprise visit with troops in Afghanistan, was joined by first lady Michele Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, on a motorcade ride from the White House to the hallowed graveyard at Arlington National Cemetery.

With troops in formal military dress standing at attention, Obama walked to the site of the Tomb of the Unknowns, under cloudless skies and in brilliant sunshine, listened to the playing of the Star Spangled Banner and Taps and then placed a wreath.

It was a moment of high solemnity on a day for parades, fireworks and picnics across the American landscape.