President Donald Trump marked a solemn occasion of remembrance in awkward fashion when he wished Japanese military forces a “Happy Memorial Day” aboard the destroyer J.S. Kaga.
On Tuesday morning local time, but still Memorial Day in the United States, Trump addressed members of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force on the deck of the Kaga in Yokosuka.
“I want to start by saying Happy Memorial Day,” Trump said, adding “Happy Memorial Day. It’s a great day.”
Memorial Day is an occasion to honor and commemorate those who have died in military service to the United States, which fought Japan in World War II.
Trump delivered a similar greeting to troops aboard the USS Wasp.
“And I have to wish you all a very Happy Memorial Day, right?” Trump said, and added “Memorial Day — very special back home.”
As the Associated Press report on the remarks noted, such a greeting seems out of place to some on this solemn occasion.
“Some veterans and their families don’t like the phrase ‘Happy Memorial Day,'” the report said. “They say they prefer that the federal holiday remain a somber occasion for the nation to honor those who gave their lives in service to the United States.”
During his two terms in office, President Barack Obama never used the phrase “Happy Memorial Day,” nor did it appear in any official White House communications, according to a review of those records.
Last year, Trump took heavy criticism over another “Happy Memorial Day” message in which he boasted about the economy, writing on Twitter “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!”
Watch the clips above, via The White House and CBS.
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