US President Donald Trump is being widely criticised for using the day Americans honour their fallen soldiers to post yet another self-congratulatory tweet talking up his achievements.
Memorial Day in the US, similar to Anzac Day in Australia and New Zealand, is a national holiday marking the sacrifices made by servicemen in American conflicts.
And while most politicians and public figures used the day to encourage solemn reflection, Mr Trump chose to tweet: “those who died for our great country would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today”, before citing the growing US economy and low unemployment.
Mr Trump posted the tweet before heading to Arlington National Cemetery for a formal ceremony.
Happy Memorial Day! Those who died for our great country would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today. Best economy in decades, lowest unemployment numbers for Blacks and Hispanics EVER (& women in 18years), rebuilding our Military and so much more. Nice!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2018
Martin Dempsey, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Obama administration, was quick to condemn the tone of the message, tweeting: “This day, of all days of the year, should not be about any one of us.”
John Kirby, a State Department spokesman in the Obama administration, called Mr Trump’s tweet “one of the most inappropriate, ignorant and tone-deaf things our Commander-in-Chief could have said on a day like today.”
VoteVets, a veterans group critical of the President, described Mr Trump’s message as: “the most inappropriate
#MemorialDay comment that a @POTUS has ever made. Self-promotion on a day to remember the fallen, and wishing those remembering their deceased loved ones a “happy” holiday is appalling.”
Retired General Michael Hayden, a former CIA and National Security Agency chief, put it more succinctly, tweeting simply “OMG”.
— Gen Michael Hayden (@GenMhayden) May 28, 2018
As the angry reaction to his Memorial Day message simmered, Mr Trump set a different tone as he attended a service at Arlington National Cemetery.
“We mourn alongside their families and we strive to be worthy of their sacrifice,” the President told an audience of cabinet members, military leaders, veterans and families assembled near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Mr Trump said he came to the “sacred soil” of Arlington “to honour the lives and deeds of America’s greatest heroes”, the men and women who laid down their lives so that others could be free.
He also laid a wreath at the tomb during his second Memorial Day trip to Arlington as president.