BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Despite pleas from Baltimore Mayor Jack Young to stay home, President Donald Trump was at Fort McHenry on Monday for a Memorial Day ceremony.
The president was on the ground for about an hour in Baltimore on Monday. He arrived by air on Marine One shortly before noon, flying right down Fort Avenue over hundreds of his supporters who could only get as far as the barricades outside the fort- which remains closed to the public.
Stay-at-home orders or not, the holiday brought hundreds to Locust Point, hoping for a glance.
“We’re not here in defiance. We’re here to actually be that voice of reasoning. We’re trying to maintain our six feet,” said Zulieka Baysmore, a Baltimore resident.
Among the hundreds of supporters, there was a smattering of protests, among some in the neighborhood.
“We really need to think about the 100,000 people who have lost their lives, and it’s counting. We’re not done yet,” said John Weinstein, another Baltimore resident.
During his speech, he referenced the ongoing crisis, thanking military members.
“Tens of thousands of service members and National Guardsmen are on the front lines in our war against this terrible virus, caring for patients, delivering critical supplies,” President Trump said.
He also remembered Francis Scott Key, who wrote the Star-Spangled Banner inspired by the Battle of Baltimore at Fort McHenry. The president also spoke of soldiers who died for America’s freedoms, including Army Captain Daniel Eggers who was killed in Afghanistan. He recognized Egger’s family members, who were in the audience.
“From the Battle of Baltimore to the Battle of the Bulge, Americans gave their lives to carry that flag,” President Trump said.
While there was no view of the ceremony from outside the gates, but there was an appreciation among some that the president chose to come.
“I really think it’s sad our mayor and governor won’t be here today to respect our fallen heroes,” said Mark McCullough, from Middle River.
#MemorialDay is a reminder of the tremendous sacrifices & bravery of our fallen service members. Today, we pause at @FortMcHenryNPS to pay tribute to & honor those who fought for our freedoms. pic.twitter.com/CG6TrgQ7qA
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) May 25, 2020
The mayor had asked the president not to come, as the city is still under a stay-at-home order. Gov. Larry Hogan did not meet up with the President at Fort McHenry Monday as Memorial Day also marks the governor’s birthday, which he’s said he wanted to spend with his family.
“Even though they’re on opposite sides, a day like today, Memorial Dady, to be proud Americans,” McCullough said.
Protestors in a car caravan yelled “Stay home Donald Trump, we don’t want you here,” on Sunday, speaking out against the planned visit as they drove to Fort McHenry. They said Monday is their time to follow Mayor Jack Young’s order to stay home.
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Mayor Young voiced last week he thought the president was “violating the law,” by coming while the city is under a stay-at-home order, and that he could be setting a better example by staying home.
“The City of Baltimore remains under a Stay at Home order that was put in place to help safeguard our residents from the dangers associated with COVID-19,” He said. “We have worked closely with our health professionals to educate the public about the benefits of social distancing and staying home, unless leaving for an essential reason, like visiting a doctor or picking up groceries.”
Motorcades and police starting to stream down Fort Ave, where President Trump is expected at Fort McHenry in about an hour. pic.twitter.com/FTDIsyUbuj
— Paul Gessler (@PaulGessler) May 25, 2020
Just hours before the event was set to begin, Council President Brandon Scott called on the president to stay home and “set the right example,”
“Less than one year ago, you called the late Congressman Elijah Cummings a ‘brutal bully’ and said that Baltimore was ‘a disgusting, rat and rodent-infested mess,’” writes the Council President Scott. “As a proud son of our great city, I am stating in the strongest terms that you should cancel your trip, out of respect to Congressman Cummings and to all the people of Baltimore.”
He continues in a letter to the president that if he did choose to come, to bring supplies and funding to the city.
“Respectfully, I request that you not visit Baltimore. However, if you choose to do so, I ask that you consider bringing the following with you: 100,000 tests for COVID-19; $25 million to support Baltimore small businesses impacted by COVID-19; $150 million to help Baltimore close the projected fiscal gap resulting from this pandemic; and $30 million to jump start the build out of Baltimore’s municipal broadband network to close the digital divide.”
President Trump’s remarks lasted 14 minutes and he was on the ground in Baltimore for about an hour.