(CNSNews.com) - At a ceremony commemorating some of the bravest Americans of World War II, President Barack Obama reminded the "greatest generation" how the U.S. military has changed under his command, by slipping in references to immigrants and women.
Speaking at Normandy, President Barack Obama singled out three veterans who stormed the beaches under heavy fire.
These were "the men who were willing to lay down their lives for people they never met," Obama said. "Wilson and Harry and Rock, they are here today," the president continued, as he briefly described their service to their country.
"Gentlemen, I want each of you to know that your legacy is in good hands," he told the three men. "For at a time when it has never been more tempting to pursue narrow self-interest, to slough off common endeavor, this generation of Americans -- a new generation...has chosen to do their part as well."
"Rock, I want you to know that Staff Sgt. Melvin Sabillo Martin, who is here today, is following in your footsteps. He just had to become an American first. Because Melvin was born in Honduras, moved to the United States, joined the Army. After tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he was reassigned to the 82nd Airborne. And Sunday, he'll parachute into Normandy.
"Wilson, you should know that Specialist Janice Rodriguez, who joined the Army not even two years ago, was assigned to the 101st Airborne and just last month earned the title of the 101st Airborne Division Air Assault Soldier of the Year. And that's inspiring, but not surprising, when the women of today's military have taken on responsibilities, including combat, like never before."
Obama said the current "9/11 generation" of service members also "felt something, they answered some call, they said, I will go. They too chose to serve a cause that's greater than self, many even after they knew they'd be sent into harm's way."
On a day dedicated to the elderly veterans of Normandy, Obama also thanked active-duty troops, including Melvin and Janice, for their service: "They are a reminder that the tradition represented by these gentlemen continues."
The remark was greeted with silence.
In January 2013, Obama -- invoking "fairness and equality" -- announced that he was "moving to open" more military positions, including ground combat units, to women.
And the administration reportedly is planning to let illegal aliens serve in the military if they qualify for amnesty under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.