ARLINGTON, Va. President Donald Trump said the nation’s “boundless” gratitude for the ultimate sacrifice paid by the Americans to the defense of the United States, dedicates his first Memorial Day address as commander in chief of a top Cabinet secretary and two other families who lost loved ones.
icipation in the dreary, annual observance of Monday at Arlington National Cemetery, Trump told the tales of Green Beret Capt. Andrew D. Byers of Colorado Springs and Christopher D. Horton of the Oklahoma National Guard as Byers’ crying parents and Horton’s emotional widow looked on.
Trump also selected for a special mention Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, a retired Marine four-star general, whose son, Marine 2nd Lt Robert M. Kelly, was killed in November 2010 after he stepped on a landmine while on patrol in southern Afghanistan.
All Gold Star families, Trump said of their lost service members: “They each had their own name, their own stories, their own beautiful dreams. But they were all angels, sent to us by God and they all have a title in common and that is the title of a hero, a real hero.”
“All they were here only a short time before God called them home, their legacy will continue for ever,” Trump said.
Horton, a sniper sent to Afghanistan in 2011, died in a firefight with the Taliban near the pakistani border, three months into his deployment. Byers was on his third combat tour and Trump said, ran through the smoke and a hail of bullets to rescue an Afghan soldier when he was killed in November last year.
Secretary Kelly’s other son, Johnny, is ready for his fifth military deployment. A son-in-law, Jake, is a wounded warrior.
Trump also included former U.S. senator and GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole, 93, who suffered a lifelong injury during the second world War. He attended the ceremony along with his wife, Elizabeth Dole, also a former U.S. senator.
“As we honor the brave warriors who gave their lives for us, spending their last moments on this Earth in defense of this country and of the people, not in words can measure the depth of their dedication, the purity of their love, or the totality of their courage,” Trump said.
“We only hope that every day we are able to prove worthy not only of their sacrifice and service, but of the sacrifice of the families and loved ones they left behind. Special, special people,” he said.
For the remarks, Trump laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, touch for a long time away. He leaned with his hand on his heart as a bugler played taps.
The step up to the microphone to deliver, the address, the Trump seemed to enjoy the warm welcome of the audience gathered in the sun-splashed amphitheater. Trump has the feel in particular aggrieved in recent weeks by the federal and parliamentary investigation of the contacts between his staff and Russian government officials, including news reports that Jared Kushner, son-in-law and the top White House adviser, proposed a secret back-channel communications with Russia during the presidential transition.
The president was accompanied to Arlington cemetery by the Vice-President Mike Pence, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as a range of advisors and Cabinet, including Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, and Housing Secretary Ben Carson.
After the address, Trump visited part of the cemetery for AMERICAN service members killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The White House said Trump visited the grave of Robert Kelly, who was laid to rest in section 60.
Asked what is the meaning of the Memorial Day held for him, Secretary Kelly said: “Sorry.”
Accompanied by Pence, Trump walked briefly among the white marble tombstones and greet families, including Brittany Jacobs and her 6-year-old son, Christian, who was dressed as a Marine. Jacobs: “father, Marine Sgt. Christopher Jacobs, died during a training accident in California in 2011.
Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap