ARLINGTON, Va. (NewsNation Now) — As Americans across the country pay tribute to those who’ve served in the U.S. Armed Services, President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden marked Veterans Day by attending separate memorials.
Trump and first lady Melania Trump visited Arlington National Cemetery Wednesday for a wreath-laying ceremony.
It’s one of Trump’s first public appearances since his Democratic opponent Joe Biden secured the Electoral College votes needed to clinch the presidency, as called by the Associated Press. Trump had not conceded, pushing forward with his legal challenge to the vote count.
Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence also attended the 67th Annual National Veterans Day Observance Wednesday, which involved the laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Veteran’s Day wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery have drawn thousands of people in the past. But this year’s event will be closed to the public and modified to ensure participants are following safety guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, Biden visited the Korean War Memorial in Philadelphia.
The president-elect made a brief appearance with his wife, Jill, at the memorial. He’s expected to spend most of the day in private briefings with his transition team.
Biden issued a Veterans Day statement Wednesday, saying it’s our “sacred obligation” to “prepare and equip our troops we send into harm’s way, and to care for them and their families when they return home.”
He called for “world class health care provided by the” U.S. Veterans Affairs Department, and addressing mental health needs.
“We have to make clear to everyone suffering from unseen wounds that there is honor and strength in reaching out for help. And we have to make sure that no veteran is locked out of treatment for conditions related to toxic exposures or traumatic brain injuries experienced in the line of duty,” Biden said.
President Trump also raised awareness of the mental health issues many veterans face in his Veterans Day proclamation.
“The mental health and welfare of our veterans is of critical importance, and addressing this issue has been a top priority,” Trump said in a statement. “Tragically, an average of 20 veterans and service members die by suicide each day. We are striving with all our effort to end this alarming and unacceptable reality.”
Near where Trump attended the wreath-laying ceremony Wednesday, two museums are hosting Veterans Day ceremonies.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian is opening its memorial honoring the service and sacrifice of Native American veterans and their families Wednesday.
The event includes tributes to Native American veterans, as well as a virtual tour of the memorial.
Less than 20 miles away, the U.S. Army is opening its National Museum of the United States Army in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Wednesday.
It’s the first and only museum that will tell the full history of the U.S. Army since 1775, NewsNation affiliate WDVM-TV reported.
“The U.S. Army and the American Soldier forged the birth of our nation,” said Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy. “The National Army Museum will be a place for members of the total Army family to gather and share their stories, while also creating an opportunity for visitors to connect with our nation’s history through the eyes and voices of individual Soldiers.”