Trump honors fallen service members in Memorial Day speech
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty ImagesBy MICHELLE STODDART, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump honored fallen military troops as well as service members currently fighting the novel coronavirus, or what he called, “the invisible enemy,” in a speech at Fort McHenry in Baltimore on Memorial Day.
“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,” Trump said. “As one nation we mourn alongside every single family that has lost loved ones, including the families of our great veterans.”
This comes as the nation nears a grim milestone of 100,000 deaths to the coronavirus, a milestone which prompted lawmakers to urge the White House to lower flags to half-staff in honor of Americans who died of the coronavirus. The president ordered flags to remain at half-staff through Memorial Day.
Despite the grim milestone, the president hailed service members for their work to combat coronavirus, with optimism for the fate of America.
“Together we will vanquish the virus and America will rise from this crisis to new and even greater heights. As our brave warriors have shown us from the nation’s earliest days. In America, we are the captains of our own fate. No obstacle, no challenge and no threat is a match for the sheer determination of the American people,” Trump said.
The president also hailed U.S. troops for their sacrifices in combat during his speech in Baltimore.
“We remember the young Americans who never got the chance to grow old, but whose legacy will outlive us all. In every generation, these intrepid souls kissed goodbye to their families and loved ones,” Trump said. “They took flight in planes, set sail in ships and marched into battle with our flag, fighting for our country, defending our people.”
He also acknowledged those families in attendance at Fort McHenry who had lost loved ones in conflict.
“To every Gold Star family here today and all across our land, our debt to you is infinite and everlasting,” Trump said. “We stand with you today and all days to come remembering and grieving for America’s greatest heroes. In spirit and strength, in loyalty and love, in character and courage, they were larger-than-life itself.”
In keeping with social distancing guidelines, many Americans who have lost family members were finding different ways to honor their loved ones without gathering. Several ceremonies from across the country were also streamed online.
Earlier in the day, Trump joined Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in a wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. The cemetery is currently closed to the public and the ceremony was live-streamed.
Former Vice President Joe Biden visited the Delaware Memorial Bridge Veterans Memorial Park to pay his respects. He and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, wore masks while laying a wreath at the memorial.
“Today we honor our heroes we have lost. We pray for the loved ones they left behind,” Trump said at Fort McHenry. “And with God as our witness, we solemnly vow to protect, preserve, and cherish this land they gave their last breath to defend and to defend so proudly.”
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