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Trump visits Arlington National Cemetery and Fort McHenry on Memorial Day

Trump, first lady at Arlington
Trump, first lady at Arlington 18:11

President Trump began observing Memorial Day with a tweet Monday morning: "HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!" He then participated at a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, and also attended and spoke at a ceremony at Fort McHenry in Baltimore.

Mr. Trump and first lady Melania Trump visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Monday morning. Although the wreath laying is usually part of a ceremony that involves a presidential address, Mr. Trump did not deliver a speech at the cemetery, which is closed to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The wreath laying lasted about five minutes. Mr. Trump walked up to the wreath and stood silently before it, reached out and briefly placed his hand on the wreath, and then saluted.

Flags flew at half staff at the White House and other public buildings in Washington over the weekend to honor the nearly 100,000 who have died of COVID-19 in the U.S.

The president then headed to Baltimore, which also remains under a stay-at-home order. The city's mayor, Jack Young, had asked Mr. Trump not to come, saying in a statement, "That President Trump is deciding to pursue non-essential travel sends the wrong message to our residents, many of whom have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 virus." He went on to say that the president's trip would require expensive personnel and equipment that would burden the city, which Young said has been losing $20 million each month during the pandemic.

The White House took a different view. "The brave men and women who have preserved our freedoms for generations did not stay home and the President will not either as he honors their sacrifice by visiting such a historic landmark in our Nation's history," White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement.

In Baltimore, Mr. Trump spoke at the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. In the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key watched the British bombardment of Fort McHenry and wrote a poem that became the basis for the "The Star-Spangled Banner."

During remarks at the Memorial Day ceremony, Mr. Trump honored "the immortal souls who fought and died to keep us free."

"Every time we sing our anthem — every time its rousing chorus swells our hearts with pride — we renew the eternal bonds of loyalty to our fallen heroes," the president said. "We think of the soldiers who spent their final heroic moments on distant battlefields to keep us safe at home. We remember the young Americans who never got the chance to grow old but whose legacy will outlive us all."

Mr. Trump also noted the impact the coronavirus has had on troops and members of the National Guard who have been assisting with the response.

"Tens of thousands of service members and national guardsmen are on the frontlines of our war against this terrible virus, caring for patients, delivering critical supplies and working night and day to safeguard our citizens," he said. "As one nation, we mourn alongside all of the families who have lost a loved one – including the families of our great veterans."

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