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US honors veterans over Memorial Day weekend

May 25, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — Americans honored fallen soldiers with planting flags at cemeteries, parades and even barbecues Sunday as President Barack Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan for the U.S. Memorial Day.

Obama arrived at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan to speak with troops and visit soldiers being treated at a base hospital. At least 2,181 members of the U.S. military have died during the nearly 13-year Afghan war and thousands more have been wounded.

On Saturday, Democratic congresswoman Tammy Duckworth served as grand marshal of Chicago’s Memorial Day Parade and struggled to hold back tears during a wreath-laying ceremony to honor fallen soldiers. She lost her legs and partial use of an arm when a rocket-propelled grenade hit the Black Hawk helicopter she was piloting in Iraq in 2004.

In Massachusetts, Boston Marathon survivor Jeff Bauman and his rescuer, Carlos Arredondo, helped plant tens of thousands of flags Saturday at a cemetery to honor soldiers.

Obama directed all government agencies in the United States to fly their flags at half-staff Monday in observance of Memorial Day.

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Associated Press writer Carla K. Johnson contributed to this report from Chicago.

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