President Obama speaks during service at Arlington National Cemetery
(CNN) — President Barack Obama marked his final Memorial Day as president by paying tribute to fallen U.S. soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday.
He laid a wreath at the cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknown Solider and delivered remarks at a ceremony honoring those who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice in combat.
At Section 60 of the cemetery, families and friends of fallen soldiers began gathering early Monday morning to pay tribute to their loved ones.
Their presence serves as a reminder that the U.S. military is still engaged in dangerous efforts across the Middle East.
Nearly 10,000 U.S. service members are stationed in Afghanistan, and the U.S. will maintain a presence there into 2017 despite Obama’s efforts to end that mission.
There are also more than 4,000 American troops in Iraq and Syria participating in the anti-ISIS effort in many of the same cities and towns where American lives were lost in the Iraq War.
These troops primarily serve in an advisory capacity, but have occasionally come under fire.
Three soldiers lost their lives in combat since the U.S. mission there began in the summer of 2014. Most recently, 31-year-old Navy SEAL Charles Keating IV was killed in a firefight with ISIS fighters earlier this month.