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SURESNES, France — President Donald Trump paid tribute on Sunday to Americans who fought in the two world wars, saying the nation is forever in their debt during a visit to a cemetery in France where more than 1,500 of them are buried.
“It’s been a wonderful two days we spent in France, and this has certainly been the highlight of the trip," Trump said in remarks that capped a weekend in Paris where he and more than 80 other world leaders marked the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
Despite some tense overtones between Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron during the weekend over their visions of international cooperation, the president praised the unity between his host country and the U.S. in times of war.
“We fought well together. You could not fight better than we fought together,” Trump said of France and the U.S.
“The American and French patriots of World War I embody the timeless virtues of our two republics: honor and courage, strength and valor, love and loyalty, grace and glory,” Trump said. “It is our duty to preserve the civilization they defended, and to protect the peace they so nobly gave their lives to secure one century ago.”
Trump’s spoke at the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial outside of Paris a day after he came under criticism for canceling a visit to another American cemetery near the city because of inclement weather.
Standing at the presidential podium under a steady rain without an umbrella, Trump joked to six World War II veterans about their enviable position keeping them dry.
“You look so comfortable up there under shelter as we're getting drenched,” Trump said, drawing laughter from the crowd. “Very smart people.”
“You look like you’re in very good shape, all of you,” he added. “I hope I look like that some day. America is forever in your debt.”
Trump, who walked among the gravestones at the cemetery before delivering his remarks, noted he was standing near the site of one of the deadliest battles in U.S. history for American forces.
The cemetery is home to the remains of more than 1,500 Americans who died in World War I and 24 unknown U.S. dead from World War II.