Joe Biden honors World War I soldiers, visits cemetery in France that Donald Trump skipped

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BELLEAU, France – President Joe Biden ended his five-day trip to France on Sunday by paying his respects to World War I soldiers buried in a cemetery that former President Donald Trump did not visit six years ago over weather concerns.

Biden and first lady Jill Biden participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial near the village of Belleau, about 60 miles northeast of Paris.

The cemetery, which sits at the foot of Belleau Wood, is the burial ground of more than 2,000 American soldiers killed during the war. Most of them fought in the area and in the Marne valley in the summer of 1918. The soldiers buried in the cemetery’s sweeping curve include 1,800 U.S. Marines killed in the Belleau Wood.

Holding hands with the first lady, the president walked to the steps of the cemetery chapel, which is flanked by hundreds of white, cross-shaped headstones on each side. He stood silently in front of a floral wreath at the bottom of the steps and made the sign of the cross.

Biden told reporters afterward that he couldn't imagine coming to Normandy and not making the short trip to Aisne-Marne cemetery to pay tribute to the soldiers buried there.

"America showed up," he said of the fallen heroes. "America showed up to stop the Germans. America showed up to make sure that they did not prevail. America shows up when we're needed, just like our allies show up for us."

Biden has spent much of his trip to France focusing on World War II veterans who participated in the D-Day landings in Normandy on June 6, 1944. The Allied troops who stormed Normandy’s beaches that day liberated Nazi-occupied France and “literally saved the world,” Biden said Thursday during ceremonies commemorating the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

His stop at the Aisne-Marne cemetery on Sunday allowed him to also honor the sacrifices of those killed in World War I and subtly call attention to Trump’s refusal to pay his respects to the war dead buried there.

Trump in 2018, during his presidency, canceled a visit to the cemetery because it was raining. “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers,” Trump reportedly said, according to The Atlantic. Trump also called the fallen soldiers “suckers” and “losers,” the magazine claimed.

Trump’s White House denied the report and said the cemetery visit had been canceled because the rain grounded his helicopter and there wasn’t enough time to close off roads for a motorcade on such short notice.

But Biden has mentioned the ensuing incident several times this year during campaign events as he again faces Trump in this November’s election.

“To me, that is such a disqualifying assertion made by a president – ‘suckers’ and ‘losers,’” he told reporters at Wilkes-Barre Scranton International Airport in Pennsylvania in April.

Michael Collins covers the White House. Follow him on X @mcollinsNEWS.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Joe Biden honors soldiers, visits cemetery Donald Trump skipped