President Trump Makes Unscheduled Appearance At Arlington National Cemetery For Holiday Commemoration

Yuri Gripas-PoolGetty Images

Almost a month after receiving criticism for not visiting Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day, President Trump made an unannounced visit there on Saturday, December 15, Time is reporting. While he had once cancelled a trip to Aisne Marne American Cemetery, a cemetery in France honoring the lives lost in World War I, due to “poor weather,” the rain didn’t seem to bother him this time. Trump was pictured holding an umbrella as he observed an annual event where people lay down holiday wreaths to honor fallen soldiers. The act is performed by volunteers for an organization called Wreathes Across America, whose mission is to honor veterans all across the nation.

Trump walked through the graveyard with a tour guide. He later told reporters that he supports a plan that aims to expand the cemetery to make room for future burials. According to USA Today, the cemetery is currently 624 acres and over 400,000 people are buried there. On average, about 25 burials happen at Arlington per day. The land was first used as a military cemetery in 1864 following the Battle of the Wilderness during the Civil War. Over time, it expanded to commemorate other soldiers. The land, which was once an estate owned by General Robert E. Lee, is less than five miles from the White House.

U.S. President Donald Trump visits Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery on December 15, 2018 in Arlington, Virginia.
U.S. President Donald Trump visits Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery on December 15, 2018 in Arlington, Virginia.Featured image credit: Yuri Gripas-PooGetty Images

Trump was seen visiting Section 60 of the cemetery, which contains tombstones for all of those killed in the global war on terror since 2001. He appeared to be in a calm mood, despite the current staff shake-up going on in his administration. Trump praised Wreathes Across America for their work and said “they’re doing a great job.”

In November, Trump told Chris Wallace of Fox News in an interview that he made a mistake not going to see the Arlington graves over Veterans Day weekend. He initially said he was unable to visit because he was “extremely busy on calls for the country.” Now, it seems he’s making the Arlington visit a priority going forward.

“In retrospect, I should have, and I did last year, and I will virtually every year,” Trump said to Wallace on not attending the Veterans Day ceremony.

Last year, Trump was in Vietnam on Veterans Day and was unable to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington. Instead, he decided to meet with veterans in Vietnam. Trump has finally managed to make his way to Arlington, and he observed thousands of wreathes that were placed on tombstones as he walked through the cemetery. Reportedly, almost every grave had a wreath on it, except for some graves that featured the Star of David.