Trump honors French and American soldiers of World War I in Armistice Day remarks

Trump honors French and American soldiers of World War I in Armistice Day remarks
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rips Dems' demands, impeachment talk: 'Witch Hunt continues!' Nevada Senate passes bill that would give Electoral College votes to winner of national popular vote The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push MORE on Sunday paid tribute to American and French soldiers who died in World War I, capping off a two-day visit to France to mark the 100-year anniversary of the war's end.

"The American and French patriots of World War I embody the timeless virtues of our two republics. Honor and courage. Strength and valor. Love and loyalty, grace and glory,” Trump said at a ceremony at the Suresnes American Cemetery outside of Paris. 

“It is our duty to preserve the civilization they defended and to protect the peace they so nobly gave their lives to secure one century ago,” he added. 

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Trump spoke for roughly 10 minutes in a light rain, praising the contributions of French and American soldiers who died to secure a "great" but "costly" victory 100 years ago.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push Iraq War looms over Trump battle with Iran Overnight Defense: Trump officials say efforts to deter Iran are working | Trump taps new Air Force secretary | House panel passes defense bill that limits border wall funds MORE, White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE, military leaders, World War II veterans and several members of Congress were among those in attendance.

Several audience members sat in rain ponchos or under umbrellas, while a staffer at one point took a squeegee on stage to remove rain from around the podium in anticipation of the president's arrival.

"You look so comfortable up there under shelter as we’re getting drenched. You’re very smart people," Trump said light-heartedly as he recognized the World War II veterans at the ceremony.

Trump's recognition of the unified effort between America and France served as a bookend to a trip to Paris that at times underscored the fraying relationship between the president and U.S. allies.

Trump was absent earlier Sunday as dozens of world leaders walked side-by-side in the rain along the Champs-Élysées to commemorate the moments the war ended. The president arrived separately due to “security concerns,” the White House said. 

At a ceremony that followed, French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the spread of nationalism, calling it a “betrayal of patriotism.” 

“By saying our interests first … we raise what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what give it grace, and what is essential: its moral values,” Macron said.

Trump has in recent weeks openly described himself as a nationalist, saying he uses the term proudly. He has disputed any suggestion the moniker has racial undertones or is tied to white nationalism, insisting it simply means he cares about putting America ahead of the world.

The president’s visit to Paris has been marked by criticism over controversies at home and abroad.

The president drew blowback on Saturday when he canceled a planned trip to a cemetery in Northern France where American soldiers are buried. Trump was scheduled to make the trip via helicopter, but called it off due to weather. 

Kelly and Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made the trip instead via motorcade. 

Trump separately attracted widespread condemnation on Saturday for blaming poor forest management for the devastating California wildfires that have killed 25 and forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes.