Trump Salutes US War Dead on Memorial Day
U.S. President Donald Trump paid tribute Monday to the nation’s war dead on Memorial Day in a solemn wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington.
The U.S. leader touched the wreath of red, white and blue flowers and saluted the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier that is inscribed with the gratitude of the country: “Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.” A bugler played “Taps.”
Trump was accompanied to the ceremony by Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary Mark Esper. First Lady Melania Trump and Second Lady Karen Pence watched from steps nearby along with other dignitaries.
But there was evidence of the ongoing coronavirus threat at this year’s annual Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington, the country’s most prominent cemetery for U.S. service men and women. Trump did not address the crowd as in years’ past and people attending the ceremony socially distanced themselves two meters apart from each other. Some military personnel wore face masks.
As Trump’s motorcade wound through the grassy knolls of the cemetery, cannons boomed out a salute to the fallen service members. Soldiers in dress uniforms and with masks saluted as the motorcade passed countless rows of headstones, all marked with small American flags.
Memorial Day is observed annually in the U.S. on the last Monday in May to honor the hundreds of thousands of U.S. servicemen and women who sacrificed their lives for their country. A flag stands next to the gravestone for a U.S. World War II veteran, at Fort Logan National Cemetery, in Sheridan, Colorado, May 23, 2020.This past weekend, U.S. flags were flown at half-staff across the country from Friday through Sunday to honor the nearly 100,000 Americans who have died from coronavirus, with the flags lowered again on Monday to pay tribute to the nation’s war dead.
The U.S. coronavirus toll, by far the highest in the world, includes more than 1,000 veterans who have died from COVID-19, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The holiday is also the unofficial start of the summer vacation season in the United States. But with social distancing guidelines and restrictions on certain travelers from overseas and millions of job losses, the holiday was different than in years past, with way fewer public tributes across the country.
Still, with millions of Americans anxious to resume normal lives as state governors have eased their stay-at-home restrictions, many went to beaches and lakes or ate meals in restaurants for the first time in about nine weeks.
But numerous crowds of people by the thousands ignored health officials’ warnings to keep a safe distance from each other and to continue to wear face masks
After leaving Arlington, Trump plans to spend part of Memorial Day at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, where a historic battle in the War of 1812 was fought and served as inspiration for the U.S. national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” A fife and drums corps plays at a Memorial Day ceremony at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, in Baltimore, Maryland, May 25, 2020.Baltimore Mayor Jack Young had pleaded with the president not to come, saying it sends the wrong message when the mayor has urged Baltimoreans not to travel. Trump has refused to wear a mask in public, and Young said Trump’s visit is not essential.
White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Deborah Birx said Sunday she is “very concerned” by the pictures and video she has been seeing all weekend of people crowded together at swimming pools and other recreation sites without masks.
“We know being outside does help, we know the sun does help in killing the virus, but that doesn’t change the fact that people need to be responsible and maintain that distance,” she told the “Fox News Sunday” show. “I was hoping to convey this very clear message to the American people across the country: There is a virus out there,” she said.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Sunday his state is “decidedly in the reopening phase.” New York has been the hardest-hit state in the U.S. But Cuomo said overall, the numbers in New York are heading in the right direction.