Trump and Melania pay tribute to those killed at the Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day, when they will be able to visit the state on Monday
- Donald and Melania Trump marked Memorial Day early on Thursday with an unannounced visit to Arlington National Cemetery in a suburb of Virginia
- Presidents usually lay wreaths at the grave of strangers on the annual holiday, but the first family will be in Japan on Monday for a state visit
- They participated in the annual & # 39; Flags In & # 39; ceremony in which 1,000 infantry soldiers place 260,000 flags for graves
- The operation lasts four hours and has happened every year since 1948
- The president visited the part of the cemetery where General Black Jack Pershing is buried, along with Frank Buckles, the last surviving WWI veteran
The president and the first lady paid an unannounced visit to Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday, as a result of which the traditional Memorial Day performance took place four days earlier as they will be on holiday in Japan on Monday.
Donald and Melania Trump took turns taking small American flags in front of a row of headstones, assisted by a quartet of soldiers in fatigues from the Unit & # 39; Old Guard & # 39; of the Third Infantry who holds ceremonies in Arlington.
They spent their time in Section 34 of the cemetery, where visitors visited the grave site of General John Joseph & # 39; Black Jack & # 39; To be able to see Pershing, who commanded the American expedition troops on the western front in the First World War.
Frank Buckles, the last remaining veteran of that war, is buried in the same section.
Traditionally, presidents lay wreaths at the grave of the unknown on Memorial Day. The first couple spent less than fifteen minutes in the cemetery, with an average of nearly 30 funerals every weekday and between six and eight every Saturday.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump helped the US flags during the & # 39; Flags In & # 39; ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia on Thursday
Presidents usually lay wreaths at the grave of strangers on the annual Memorial Day holiday, but the first family will be in Japan on Monday for a state visit
But they were not alone: a contingent of other military personnel also took part in the annual & # 39; Flags In & # 39; event, which starts every year on the Thursday before Memorial Day.
In the course of about four hours, more than 260,000 flags found their places on Thursday at the resting places of the honored dead of America.
The operation included 228,000 individual Arlington headstones and 7,000 rows & # 39; niches & # 39 ;. The chaplains of the army placed flags in front of the memorials of the cemetery and the headstones on Chaplain & # 39; s Hill.
Sentinels also place flags at the grave of the unknown soldier.
A further 14,000 flags were planted at the Soldiers' & Airmen's Home National Cemetery in nearby Washington.
& # 39; Niche & # 39; grave sites are concrete crypts that have been stacked no less than six high, a recent addition intended to extend the date on which Arlington runs out of room. This is currently expected in less than 25 years.
The Flags In ceremony took place annually since 1948 and guaranteed a flag at every cemetery at least once a year.
Every available soldier from the Old Guard takes part in the operation. This year more than 1,000 participated.
The White House press, Sarah Sanders, said on Thursday that the president will hold a Memorial Day event in Tokyo on Monday, but that he also wanted to visit Arlington.
Donald and Melania Trump took turns placing small American flags in front of a row of headstones, assisted by a quartet of soldiers in fatigues from the unit & # 39; Old Guard & # 39; of the Third Infantry who leads ceremonies in Arlington
The first couple spent less than fifteen minutes in the cemetery, with an average of nearly 30 funerals every weekday and between six and eight every Saturday
Trump has made veteran care a central issue in his presidency, and has often spoken about how the twin epidemics of opioid addiction and suicide affect past active servants.
In the coming days, he is expected to make decisions about increasing the US military footprint in the Middle East, in response to growing threats from Iran.
The large flags at the Arlington National Cemetery are flown daily from half an hour before the first funeral to half an hour after the last funeral.
The smaller flags that are placed in serious locations are removed before the public can visit Arlington on Tuesday morning after the holiday.
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