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U.S. President Joe Biden used his Memorial Day speech on Monday to defend American democracy, and stressed that there was still much to be done to deliver on the promise of what he called "the greatest experiment" in world history.
"To state the obvious, our democracy is imperfect, it always has been. But Americans of all backgrounds, races, creeds, gender identities, sexual orientations have along spilled their blood to defend our democracy."
In a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, Biden warned about threats at home and abroad.
"Democracy itself is in peril, here at home and around the world. What we do now, what we do now, how we honor the memory of the fallen will determine whether or not democracy will long endure."
And he emphasized voting rights were the bedrock of the American system of government.
"Democracy thrives when the infrastructure of democracy is strong, when people have the right to vote, freely and fairly and conveniently."
Voting rights are now front and center amid what critics say is a wave of state laws intended to restrict access to the ballot. In Texas, Republicans are trying to pass an election reform bill critics say would make it harder for Black and Hispanic Americans to vote.
Biden also focused on the ultimate sacrifice: U.S. service members dying for their country, saying that more than 7,000 people had been killed in U.S. conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In honor of the fallen, Biden, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, laid a wreath at the tomb of Unknown Soldier.