On Monday, Vice President Mike Pence commemorated Memorial Day by laying a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery. He also honored the fallen United States military service members by saying that “this is the day that makes possible all other American days.”
Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, joined Pence in Arlington. Pence was also accompanied by the acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.
During the service, Dunford said: “Today’s generation of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen are following the footsteps of an unending line of Americans who’ve answered the call to duty. As we pause to remember the fallen, please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”
The speakers offered their support to the survivors of the deceased soldiers. “To those they leave behind: beloved spouses, children, family, and friends, we know not a day passes you don’t think of them. Today, millions of your fellow Americans remember with you. Let them celebrate the life of your hero with you, they are here for you,” said Shanahan.
While Pence was speaking, he singled out two particular guests in attendance: former senator and World War II veteran, Robert Dole, and his wife Elizabeth. “We are actually joined today by two leaders who have quite possibly done more to honor the memory of our fallen and support their families than any other living Americans,” Pence said, as audience members gave them a standing ovation.
According to Pence, more than 40 million people have served in the United States military, and nearly 1 million of them have died since the United States was founded. Pence spoke about the “lives of promise cut short, of dreams unfulfilled, of families shattered.” He said that “Americans of every race and creed have fought and died for our freedom.”
Later Monday, Trump spoke to American troops aboard the USS Wasp at Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan. According to Pence, he spoke with the president before the ceremony began. “And I know his heart is here with all of you and with families across this nation for whom every day is Memorial Day,” Pence said.
While speaking about those who have died serving our military, Pence said: “Heroic Americans have answered their nation’s call and paid the ultimate price for our freedom.” Pence continued by saying: “Their duty was to serve. Our duty is to remember.”
Typically, the president lays a wreath and speaks at the cemetery, but at this time, President Trump is visiting Japan for a state visit. On Monday, President Trump released a video on Twitter of a recent visit he made to the national cemetery with the first lady, Melania Trump.
Every Thursday before Memorial Day, members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, also known as the Old Guard, honor the fallen heroes by placing a flag at each headstone. President Trump and the First Lady placed three flags on headstones during their visit to the cemetery.