President Donald Trump paid a visit to the Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday along with First Lady Melania Trump ahead of Memorial Day.
The Trumps planted American flags on service members’ graves during the unannounced visit ahead of his departure to Japan on Friday, The Hill reported.
They visited section 34, the resting place of some prominent service members, such as Army Cpl. Frank Buckles, once the oldest surviving veteran of World War I.
Trump’s last visit to Arlington was in December during another unannounced visit where he joined in on the laying of Christmas wreaths on service members’ graves. The visit came one month after Trump received criticism for not attending Arlington for Veterans Day, an absence he expressed regret over.
“In retrospect, I should have, and I did last year, and I will virtually every year,” he said at the time, adding that he was “extremely busy on calls for the country.”
Last year, Trump delivered a speech at Arlington on Memorial Day.
“They marched into hell so that America could know the blessings of peace. They died so that freedom could live,” Trump said at the time, as reported by CNN.
He added that the fallen service members’ love for the country was “more deep and more pure than most will ever know.”
“To every parent who weeps for a child, to every child who mourns for a parent and to every husband or wife whose heart has been torn in two today we ask God to comfort your pain, to ease your sorrow and to wipe away your tears,” Trump said. “This is a very special day and today our whole country thanks you, embraces you and pledges to you we will never forget our heroes.”
Approximately 400,000 are buried at Arlington, with some 25 burials conducted daily.
We’re honored to host @POTUS and @FLOTUS today for our annual tradition, #FlagsIn. They were welcomed by our Executive Director, Karen Durham-Aguilera; and Senior Enlisted Advisor, Sgt. Maj. Juan Abreu. pic.twitter.com/jejxagC6Tw
— Arlington National Cemetery (@ArlingtonNatl) May 23, 2019
Trump departed for Tokyo on Friday to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and he will remain in Japan past Monday when Memorial Day is observed.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump will be visiting service members at Yokosuka Naval Base on Monday where a Memorial Day event will be held.
He will also be visiting a Japanese destroyer, which will be reconfigured into an aircraft carrier for the U.S.-made F-35 fighter jet.