Biden says US troops fight to protect democracy

President Joe Biden honoured service members who gave their lives for a "more perfect union" and US democracy in his Memorial Day remarks.

In his Monday address, he also spoke of the grief of the families of those who died, touching on the death of his own son Beau - who served in Iraq - from brain cancer nine years ago.

"Today we join that grief with gratitude to our fallen heroes, their families, and the brave souls who uphold the flame of liberty," he said.

Before the speech, Mr Biden took part in the traditional wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.

In his remarks, Mr Biden praised the fallen soldiers who were "bound by a common commitment not to a place, not to a person, not to a president, but to an idea - the idea of the United States of America".

"Freedom has never been guaranteed. Every generation has had to earn it, fight for it, defend it in the battle between autocracy and democracy, between the greed of a few and the rights of many," Mr Biden said.

"Our democracy is more than a system of government, it's the soul of America."

The president had touched on this same topic - a defence of US democracy - in his commencement address to West Point military academy graduates on Saturday.

“Nothing is guaranteed about our democracy in America,” Mr Biden told them.

The remarks mirror a theme he has spoken about repeatedly in recent years, including on the campaign trail.

One of his pitches to US voters is that his rival for the White House in the coming November presidential election - Republican Donald Trump - poses a fundamental threat to US democracy.

In a post on Truth Social on Monday, Mr Trump also honoured fallen military members with an image bearing the message: "We can never replace them. We can never repay them. But we can always remember. Today, that's what we are doing - we remember."

In a separate post shortly after, he criticised the criminal cases he is facing, writing in part: "Happy Memorial Day to All, including the Human Scum that is working so hard to destroy our Once Great Country."

Mr Biden was accompanied at Arlington on Monday by Vice-President Kamala Harris and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

Mr Austin's appearance comes days after he briefly turned over his powers to a deputy on Friday for an elective, non-surgical medical procedure the Pentagon said was unrelated to his recent prostate cancer diagnosis.