Thursday, May 27, 2010

Snopes.com sets the record straight

  News that President Obama would be spending the 2010 Memorial Day weekend in Chicago rather than attending services in Arlington were attended by claims that he would thus become the first U.S. president to skip the Arlington wreath-laying ceremony since the inception of Memorial Day.
 
This claim is inaccurate: On several occasions in just the last thirty years, U.S. presidents have been elsewhere on Memorial Day (either vacationing or attending to other presidential duties), while other administration officials represented them at the wreath-laying ceremony:
 
  • In 2002, President George W. Bush was in France on Memorial Day and participated in ceremonies at Normandy (site of the D-Day landings) honoring the U.S. soldiers who fought and died in World War II. In his place, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
 
  • President 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, he (who had 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, he 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.
 
  • (NOTE: President Bill Clinton has no entry in this list because he attended Memorial Day ceremonies at Arlington each year throughout his eight years in office.)
 
On Memorial Day 2010, President Obama is scheduled to honor America's fallen heroes with a speech at Abraham Lincoln

 
The URL for this page is http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/memorialday.asp
 
 




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