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WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is leading the nation in remembering its war heroes in a Memorial Day tribute at Arlington National Cemetery.

Under cloudless skies and in brilliant sunshine, Obama walked to the site of the Tomb of the Unknowns, listened to the playing of "The Star Spangled Banner" and Taps and then placed a wreath.

Speaking just hours after returning from a surprise visit with U.S. troop in Afghanistan, Obama says the United States has reached "a pivotal moment" in that country with the end of war approaching by year's end. He paid tribute to those lost in battle in Afghanistan and elsewhere over history, calling them "patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice" for their country.

The president also made a fleeting reference to the widening VA hospital scandal involving reports of delayed treatment, even possible deaths, saying the country owes it to its veterans to get them the care they need.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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