WASHINGTON — President Trump paid tribute to fallen service members at a somber Memorial Day ceremony Monday, honoring the nation's war dead as "angels sent to us by God."
"I believe that God has a special place in heaven for those who lay down their lives so others can live free of fear," he said at Arlington National Cemetery. "We can never replace them. We can never repay them. But we can remember them."
Following a 149-year-old tradition that dates back to President Ulysses S. Grant, Trump began his first visit to the cemetery as president by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier— a silent tribute punctuated only by the buzzing of cicadas and the clatter of camera shutters.
He then delivered a 20-minute address extolling not only those who died in battle, but also the Gold Star families they left behind.
Though he acknowledged those who died in every war beginning with the Revolutionary War, Trump singled out what he called "a new generation of American patriot" which has defended the United States "from an enemy that uses the murder of innocents to wage war on humanity itself."
With their families in attendance, Trump told the stories of three service members killed in the war in Afghanistan, where he said they were fighting "enemies of all civilizations." They were Marine Corps 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, son of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, killed in 2010; Oklahoma National Guard Spc. Chris Horton, killed in 2011, and Army Capt. Andrew Byers, killed in 2011.
"Their stories are now woven into the soul of our nation, into the stars and strips of our flag, and into the berating hearts of our great, great people," Trump said.
After the speech, Trump joined Kelly at his son's grave site.