Memorial Day: Trump thanks service members fighting ‘invisible enemy’

Trumps lay wreath as Memorial Day observances adapted nationwide

May 25 (UPI) — In Memorial Day remarks, President Donald Trump recognized members of the U.S. National Guard and armed services on the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic battling an “invisible enemy.”

Trump spoke Monday to a socially distanced crowd of about 200 at historic Fort McHenry in Baltimore, hours after laying a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery.

About half in the audience wore masks, including U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., who was wearing a face shield manufactured by a company in his district.

“In recent months, our nation and the world have been engaged in a new form of battle against an invisible enemy,” Trump said. “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.

“As one nation, we mourn alongside every single family that has lost love ones, including the families of our great veterans,” he added.

Earlier Monday, in keeping with tradition, Trump, first lady Melania Trump and Vice President Mike Pence visited Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, laying a wreath to pay tribute to U.S. military members who have died in service.

While the Trumps, Pence and service members were unmasked, other participants covered their faces during the cemetery ceremony.

Masks have been required for weeks at Arlington for guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and for those performing funerals at Arlington.

Arlington is closed to the public amid the COVID-19 crisis, with only family members of fallen service members allowed to visit the historic cemetery.

Family members have been limited to 10 at the graveside at daily funerals in Arlington as social distancing is enforced. Personnel from the Army’s Third Infantry Regiment, known as the “Old Guard” are reduced and remain masked during funeral services.

Some funerals have been carried out without family members if they’re unable to travel due to coronavirus restrictions, Capt. Doug Rohde, commander in the Old Guard, told CNN.

“Our heart goes out to them for not being able to be there with their loved one as they are laid to rest, but I hope they take comfort knowing the Old Guard was there,” he said.

Trump has largely remained at the White House since March when he declared a national emergency in response to the coronavirus. But as he’s pushed for states to lift stay-at-home orders in recent weeks, he’s ventured out for more appearances, including a golf outing at his Virginia Club on Sunday.

He’s expected to travel to Florida on Wednesday to observe the launching of SpaceX’s first manned flight.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and wife Jill also appeared in public Monday for the first time in two months, both wearing masks. Biden laid a wreath at a Delaware war memorial.

Biden has not been seen in public since a March 15 debate with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., at CNN studios. He has broadcast a few messages from a makeshift studio in his Wilmington home.

“It feels good to be out of my house,” Biden told reporters.

Meanwhile, across the United States, some Memorial Day events were canceled, modified or went virtual.

In Fairfield, Ohio, near Cincinnati, a modified parade of police and fire emergency vehicles made a tour past local veteran’s homes, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department said on Facebook.

At Los Angeles National Cemetery, a virtual ceremony took place with Brig. Gen. Michael Leeney, commanding general of the 40th Infantry Division, and Rep. Ted W. Lieu, D-Calif., as well as a recorded message from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

As states slowly reopen, Memorial Day under pandemic appears to signal a slow start to the tourist season.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced re-opening for bars and restaurants in two regions: the Upper Peninsula and the area around Traverse City in time for Memorial Day.

In Oscoda, Mich., in Iosco County near Ypsilanti, where restrictions haven’t been lifted, holiday cabin owners watched as tourists bypassed the town, heading north for the holiday where restaurants were open. Memorial Day weekend is usually the start of a busy holiday party season for locals in Oscoda.

“It’s been really disappointing,” Thomas Clark, third-generation owner of Thomas Parkside Cottages told Mlive.com “Why, I guess is my first question? What makes them able before we can?”

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