Trump Marks Memorial Day at Arlington Cemetery, Fort McHenry

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news.
May 25, 2020Updated: May 25, 2020

President Donald Trump participated in a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery and visited Fort McHenry on Memorial Day, giving a speech at the latter that compared fighting the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus with war.

“In recent months, our nation and the world have been engaged in a new form of battle against an invisible enemy,” Trump said May 25 at Fort McHenry National Monument in Baltimore.

“Once more, the men and women of the United States military have answered the call to duty and raced into danger. Tens of thousands of service members and National Guardsmen are on the front lines of our war against this terrible virus, caring for patients, delivering critical supplies and working night and day to safeguard our citizens as one nation.”

The fort was the site of a battle during the Revolutionary War that inspired the writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Attendees at the ceremony were seated about six feet from each other in an attempt to follow social distancing guidelines meant to slow the spread of the CCP virus, which causes the disease COVID-19.

Trump told those assembled that he came “to pay tribute to 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. 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,” he said.

Earlier on May 25, the president, first lady, and Cabinet members attended a wreath-laying event at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

President Donald Trump(R) and Vice President Mike Pence
President Donald Trump(R) and Vice President Mike Pence participate in a Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery to commemorate Memorial Day in Arlington, Va., on May 25, 2020. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)
President Donald Trump salutes
President Donald Trump salutes as he participates in a Wreath-Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery to commemorate Memorial Day in Arlington, Va., on May 25, 2020. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

Following the playing of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” Trump stepped forward and followed a Memorial Day tradition by placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Officials didn’t speak during the ceremony, since the cemetery is closed to the public because of the pandemic.

“We can never replace them. We can never repay them. But we can always remember,” Trump said in a statement.

“Since the first shots fired in the Revolutionary War, Americans have answered the call to duty and given their lives in service to our Nation and its sacred founding ideals,” the president said in a proclamation.

“As we pay tribute to the lives and legacies of these patriots on Memorial Day, we also remember that they sacrificed to create a better, more peaceful future for our Nation and the world. We recommit to realizing that vision, honoring the service of so many who have placed love of country above all else.”

Epoch Times Photo
President Donald Trump speaks during ceremonies commemorating the Memorial Day holiday at Fort McHenry at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, on May 25, 2020. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump participate in a Memorial Day ceremony at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, in Baltimore, on May 25, 2020. (Evan Vucci/AP Photo)

“As Americans, we will always defend our freedom and our liberty. When those principles are threatened, we will respond with uncompromising force and unparalleled vigor. Generation after generation, our country’s finest have defended our Republic with honor and distinction.

“Memorials, monuments, and rows of white crosses and stars in places close to home like Arlington, Virginia, and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, as well as far-flung battlefields in places like Flanders Field in Belgium and Busan in Korea, will forever memorialize their heroic actions, standing as solemn testaments to the price of freedom,” he continued.

“We will never take for granted the blood shed by these gallant men and women, as we are forever indebted to them and their families.”

The Trumps returned to the White House after the Fort McHenry event.

Memorial Day is always observed on the last Monday of May; the federal holiday commemorates men and women who died while in military service.

Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans established what was then known as Decoration Day as a time for decorating with flowers the graves of those who had died in war.

The date of May 30 was chosen, likely because flowers would be in bloom all over the country, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Arlington National Cemetery was the site of the first large observance of the day, held that year.