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President Donald Trump paid tribute on Memorial Day to the men and women who have died in combat, saying they “all share one title in common and that is the title of 'hero.'"
A solemn president laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider Monday, marking an annual tradition for the commander in chief. Later, during his remarks, Trump called on all Americans to continue to honor the sacrifice of fallen soldiers, "for the next 1,000 years."
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“Let us pledge to make the most of that freedom that they so gallantly and brilliantly fought for and they died to protect,” he said.
Trump recognized several Gold Star families who’ve lost loved ones during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, pausing during his remarks to thank and applaud their families.
“While we cannot know the extent of your pain, what we do know is that our gratitude to them and to you is boundless and undying,” he said. “Their stories are now woven into the soul of our nation, into the stars and stripes on our flag, and into the beating hearts of our great, great people.”
The president was joined at the ceremony by Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and several members of his staff. He also noted the attendance of former Sen. Bob Dole and his wife Elizabeth, and recognized the sacrifice of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, whose son, Robert, died in Afghanistan in 2010.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump was widely criticized for verbally sparring with Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father of Captain Humayun Khan, who was killed in 2004 during the Iraq War. During a speech at the Democratic National Convention, Khan blasted then-candidate Trump for his proposed ban on Muslims and challenged him to read the Constitution.
Trump fired back on Twitter and later in an interview with ABC News, insinuating that Khan’s wife, Ghazala, was not allowed to speak at the DNC.
But Monday’s speech was a far different tone for Trump, who urged Gold Star families to take comfort in the acknowledgment and support from a grateful nation.
“Every time you see the sun rise over this blessed land, please know that your brave sons and daughters pushed away the night and delivered for us all that great and glorious dawn,” he said.