President Donald Trump has finally made it to a military cemetery in the rain, bringing a large umbrella to protect himself from the elements.
Trump made the surprise visit to Arlington National Cemetery around 2.15pm on Saturday, to observe the activities taking place there for Wreaths Across America, which decorates the graves of fallen troops for Christmas.
It came a month after Trump drew heavy criticism for skipping an appearance honoring fallen World War One soldiers at a U.S. military cemetery in France because of the weather.
Trump said at the time poor visibility and steady rain had grounded Marine One, and that the Secret Service was unable to make security arrangements for the 55-mile drive to the cemetery.
Trump visits Section 60 in Arlington Cemetery on Saturday in a surprise visit during Wreaths Across America
Trump shakes the hand of a US military member during an unscheduled visit to Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday
Trump talks with Karen Durham-Aguilera, Executive Director Army National Military Cemeteries, while visiting on Saturday
Trump carries his trusty umbrella and walks gingerly through the muddy grass in a light rain at Arlington cemetary
Trump’s surprise visit to Arlington (above) comes a month after he was criticized for skipping a cemetery visit in France
Trump carefully steps over a puddle during a surprise visit to Arlington in the rain on Saturday
Trump walks past tombstones on Saturday during an unscheduled visit to Arlington National Cemetery
He was also criticized for failing, upon his return from France, to visit Arlington to mark Veterans Day.
Trump later explained that he was ‘extremely busy on calls for the country’ that day, but added, in an interview with Fox News, ‘I should have done that.’
On Saturday, Trump arrived at Arlington unannounced, and was escorted through part of the cemetery by an official.
Trump walked gingerly though the rain-soaked grass and conversed with the female official, as two uniformed soldiers and a Secret Service agent trailed behind.
The President was the only one of the small group who had an umbrella.
France: Low clouds and a light rain ruled out the use of Marine One in France last month. Rather than drive, which he said the Secret Service wouldn’t allow, Trump sent Chief of Staff John Kelly, left, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, to the ceremony (above) 55 miles outside of Paris
President Donald Trump pauses in the rain among holiday wreaths at graves at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington
Trump pays a surprise visit to Arlington Cemetery in Arlington on Saturday, a month after his cemetery blunder in France
The press look on as Trump walks past tombstones on Saturday during an unscheduled visit to Arlington National Cemetery
Trump visits Section 60 in Arlington Cemetery in Arlington on Saturday as a Secret Service agent walks behind him
Trump drew widespread criticism for failing to attend a memorial in France last month. He is seen above braving the rain on Saturday during a surprise visit to Arlington National Cemetery
Every December, Wreaths Across America places wreaths on the graves of fallen soldiers at Arlington and other cemeteries.
More than 75,000 volunteers placed wreaths at 245,000 Arlington gravesites last year.
The Pentagon says that this year the group shipped 1.75 million wreaths to 1,640 locations across the U.S.
‘They do a great job, a really great job. Thank you,’ Trump said during the visit at Arlington.
In brief remarks to reporters, he said the government was working to expand Arlington, where more than 400,000 men and women are buried, by purchasing nearby land. ‘We’re working very hard on it. We’ll get it done.’
Trump speaks as he visits Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia on Saturday
Trump speaks to media as he visits Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington on Saturday
After walking through the cemetery and chatting with the official for several minutes, Trump took a question from a reporter on the recent federal court ruling that found Obama’s health care plan unconstitutional.
‘On the assumption that the Supreme Court upholds, we will get great, great health care for our people,’ President Donald Trump told reporters. ‘We’ll have to sit down with the Democrats to do it, but I’m sure they want to do it also.’
Arlington, on land once owned by a descendant of George Washington, lies directly across the Potomac River from the capital, just a few minutes’ drive away.
It marked the latest time that Trump appeared in public with his trusty black umbrella, which has been the subject of considerable controversy several times.
In January, Trump was accused of abandoning First Lady Melania Trump and son Barron to the elements after he boarded Air Force One under the comfort of the umbrella, but leaving the family members exposed.
In October, the President baffled observers