President Donald J. Trump came to ''the noble fortress'' of Fort McHenry in Baltimore to pay tribute on Memorial Day to those who fought and died to keep Americans free.
Fort McHenry was the site of the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812, when American patriots stood their ground and repelled a British invasion, the president noted. ''Now we come together to salute the flag, … and we pledge to their cherished memories that this majestic flag will proudly fly forever.''
In 1814, Francis Scott Key, was held captive aboard a British ship in Baltimore Harbor, and through the din of battle, he could make out the American flag's 15 broad stripes and 15 bright stars, barraged and battled, but still there, Trump said. The Americans prevailed, and from his inspiration of watching his flag fly, Key wrote a poem that became ''The Star Spangled Banner,'' the U.S. national anthem.
''Every time we hear it, we think of our warriors on distant battlefields who keep us safe at home,'' the president said. ''We remember the young Americans who never got the chance to grow old, whose legacies will outlive us all.
''In every generation, these intrepid souls kissed goodbye their families and loved ones,'' he continued. ''They took flight in planes, took sail in ships and marched into battle with our flag, fighting for our country, defending our people,'' he said.
From the Philippine Sea to Fallujah, Iraq; from New Orleans to Normandy; from Saratoga to Saipan; from the Battle of Baltimore to the Battle of the Bulge, Americans gave their lives to carry the flag through piercing winds, blazing fires, sweltering deserts and storms of bullets and shrapnel, the president said. ''They climbed atop enemy tanks, jumped out of burning airplanes, and leaped on live grenades,'' he added. ''Their love was boundless, their devotion was without limit, [and] their courage was beyond measure,'' he added.
Trump told Gold Star families that the nation's debt to them is infinite and everlasting. ''We stand with you today and all days to come, remembering and grieving for America's greatest heroes,'' he said, adding that in spirit and strength, loyalty and love, in character and courage, they were larger than life itself.
''Today, we honor the heroes we have lost,'' Trump said. ''We pray for the loved ones they left behind,'' Trump said.
Earlier in the day, the president, Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper joined together for the annual laying of the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. This year's Memorial Day events were more subdued than normal, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The American people will vanquish the virus, and the nation will rise from this crisis to new, and even greater heights, Trump said.
''As our brave warriors have shown us from the nation's earliest days, in America we are the captains of our own fate,'' he said. ''No obstacle, challenge or threat is a match for the sheer determination of the American people.''