DoD photo by Sebastian J. Sciotti Jr

Richard Wagner discusses some of the events of today’s Memorial Day with the President, including some early blunders, but also the deeper meaning of this somber occasion day.

We normally think of Memorial Day as a time to grill hamburgers, swim, sunbath, and have fun with family. But today really should be a time of somber reflection. It seems appropriate, therefore, that mostly gray clouds filled the sky as President Trump prepared to honor those who gave all.

The first stumble took place at about 10:41 AM EDT, as the motorcade was preparing to leave the White House, Kellyanne Conway was locked out.  A secret service agent pulled the door handle three times, and then knocked for someone to open and let Conway join the motorcade.

The President’s motorcade arrived at Arlington Cemetery at app. 10:46 AM EDT.  Several people stood by to watch the motorcade make its round through the cemetery.  According to our press pooler, “They seemed like military service members doing an exercise and were carrying flags and backpacks.”

There were, unfortunately, some Westboro Baptists, but they were mostly ignored.  Our press pooler gave a fitting description – “Motorcade also passed a group of Westbrook Baptist Church protesters, who were holding signs starting with ‘God hates…’ Pooler didn’t see the entire hateful message.”  But that’s already more attention than they deserve.

Lip Singing the National Anthem

The second stumble took place during the National Anthem at Arlington Cemetery.  Our Pooler either didn’t see this or consider it all that important.  But it has spread in some places on the internet that President Trump was lip singing through parts of the National Anthem.  This, admittedly, was in poor taste. But considering Trump’s tastes in general, it was probably neither meant to be disrespectful nor to trivialize this event.  

The President is Face to Face with Gold Star Families

At the “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier”, President Trump gave a very heartfelt speech in honor of Gold Star families.  Trump expressed his appreciation for Sen. Bob Dole’s (who was present) service during World War II.  He then spoke of other soldiers who had served honorably, including Andrew Byers, who died in Afghanistan protecting an Afghan soldier and U.S. troops after running through a “hail of bullets” to rescue them.  Trump recognized his parents David and Rose Byers in the audience.

Before returning to the White House, the President took a detour to visit the grave of Sec. Kelly’s son Robert Kelly.  Trump then spoke with a woman, likely a Gold Star mother.  It was hard to get exactly what was said, as this was unplanned and there were no microphones or anyone from the press in easy earshot.  But she said she had a son named “Jimmy” and was expressing her appreciation, likely for the President’s speech, and the President also accepted a yellow rose from her.  VP Pence hugged the woman as Trump moved on to talk with another woman, likely another Gold Star mother.

Memorial Day as it should be

War is sad. There are blunders, there is victory, there is a failure, and there are soldiers to honor, and to remember.  Much like this Memorial Day.  Other than the lip singing, the President otherwise remained somber and truly honored those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.  The people that truly matter today, the families of our brave men and women who gave all – they certainly appreciated how President Trump honored them today.  And as we go forward, we should hope that our President will never take lightly the sacrifices that are made in war, and not send our brave men and women into harm’s way unless it really is in our nation’s best interest.

Read more: POTUS Accepts A Yellow Rose From A Mother Of A Fallen Soldier

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Richard Wagner

Richard Wagner is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Florida State College at Jacksonville. He conducts independent study on the American conservative movement and foreign policy. When he is...

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