Memorial Day in Washington D.C.: Obama leads Memorial Day commemorations

Flowers ring the base of the Iwo Jima memorial in Arlington on Memorial Day morning. (Photo: Brianne Carter)

(ABC7/AP) - The sights and sounds of patriotism are filling the air monday as people pause in the D.C. area and around the country to mark another Memorial Day.

At the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, flags and flowers lined the base of the iconic image, while many stopped there and at each of the other memorials throughout Washington to honor the nation's military heroes.

"You can feel it in the air," Todd Frazier, a tourist visiting D.C., said. "Everybody's got that American pride."

Nearby, President Barack Obama laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.

Under sunny, blue skies, Obama stood at attention at the traditional playing of "Taps" after the wreath was presented. His appearance was the first of two Memorial Day outings. At a second event later Monday, Obama was to speak at a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

"We have to serve them and their families as well as they have served us," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address. "By making sure that they get the health care and benefits they need; by caring for our wounded warriors and supporting our military families; and by giving veterans the chance to go to college, find a good job and enjoy the freedom that they risked everything to protect."

For Donnie and Ladonna Chandler, who made the 900-mile trip to Washington from St. Louis as part of Rolling Thunder, the experience has made them even more appreciative of what others have given.

"We rode; we had the freedom to do that," Chandler said. "We stopped where we wanted to, we stayed where we wanted to, and it's all because of these men and women who gave their lives that we can do this."

Festivities in the District continue this afternoon with the National Memorial Day Parade, which kicks off at 2 p.m. It will run from 7th Street and Madison Drive to 17th Street and Constitution. Korean War veteran and U.S. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin is the honorary marshal for the parade.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.