Claim: In 2010, President Obama became the first U.S. president not to lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, May 2010]
Origins: Memorial Day, now observed on the last Monday of May, is the day of the year set aside for Americans to commemorate the men and women of the United States who died while in the military service. On Memorial Day the President of the United
President Obama's decision to spend the 2010 Memorial Day weekend in Chicago rather than attending memorial services in Arlington engendered claims (like the example cited above) that he thus became the first
- In 2002, President George W. Bush was in France on Memorial Day and participated in ceremonies at Normandy (site of the
D-Daylandings) honoring the U.S. soldierswho fought and died in World War II.In his place, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
George H.W. Bush(himself a World War II veteran) attended no ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery during his four years in office. In 1989 he was in Rome on Memorial Day (where he led observances at an American military cemetery south of that city), and from 1990 through 1992 he spent the Memorial Day weekend vacationing in Kennebunkport, Maine, while Vice-President Dan Quayle laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
- President Ronald Reagan was away from Arlington on Memorial Day on four occasions during his eight years in office: In 1981, Reagan (having been seriously wounded in an assassination attempt six weeks earlier) spent the Memorial Day weekend at his ranch in Santa Barbara, California, while Vice-President
George H.W.Bush laid the wreath at Arlington. In 1983, he attended a summit meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia, while Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Thayer represented the administration at the wreath-laying ceremony. In 1987, Reagan spent Memorial Day at the Camp David presidential retreat while Navy Secretary James Webb participated in the wreath-laying ceremony. And on Memorial Day 1988, he was out of the U.S., attending a summit meeting in Moscow.
- Bill Clinton was the only U.S. President in the last 30+ years to have attended Memorial Day ceremonies at Arlington every year throughout his term of office.
Last updated: 25 May 2015
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