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Trump and first lady visit Arlington National Cemetery ahead of Memorial Day

President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump made a surprise trip to Arlington National Cemetery Thursday afternoon ahead of Memorial Day, placing flags at headstones of late members of the military. 

The president and first lady placed flags at the headstone of Frank Buckles, the last surviving World War I veteran. In the days leading up to Memorial Day, the U.S. Army places more than 260,000 flags at headstones to mark the somber occasion. 

Mr. Trump won't be in the country to observe the holiday Monday, as he heads to Japan Friday, although he will participate in a Memorial Day event there. 

The trip wasn't on the president's public schedule, and reporters were kept too far away to hear what was said. 

U.S. President Trump visits Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington in Arlington, Virginia
U.S. President Donald Trump talks with U.S. Army officers placing flags on the graves during the annual "flags in" ceremonies before Memorial Day as the president visits Arlington National Cemetery with first lady Melania Trump in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., May 23, 2019. Carlos Barria / REUTERS

The last time the president visited Arlington National Cemetery was in December, after he said he regretted not visiting for Veterans Day when he was in France. 

"I should have done that, I was extremely busy on calls for the country, we did a lot of calling as you know," Mr. Trump told "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace in December. Wallace had asked Mr. Trump why he didn't commemorate Veterans Day Monday with a visit to the cemetery, since he was in Washington on Monday. He also pointed out that his predecessor, President Obama observed Veterans Day at Arlington every year that he was in Washington. 

Mr. Trump is heading to Japan on Friday to meet Japan's new emperor, but will also watch a sumo wrestling event. Mr. Trump will also visit a Japanese warship during his trip. 

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