Sometimes our character is marked by what we do not do, what we do not say, and where we do not go. For President Donald Trump, who delights in arousing and infuriating his opponents and inflaming his supporters, the attention invariably turns to his insults, his scowls, and his rants. But it was the time he failed to show up that reveals him for what he is.
Two times, actually: On November 10, 2018, supposedly on account of rain, Trump missed a ceremony at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery honoring America’s World War I fallen. The second miss was on Veterans Day 2018 in the United States, when he did … nothing. Most presidents have either visited and spoken at Arlington National Cemetery on that day or, if they were in some other part of the country, attended similar services elsewhere.
In 2007, George W. Bush, in Texas following a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, participated in a wrenching ceremony honoring four fallen Texans. In 2010, Barack Obama spoke to soldiers at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan and laid a wreath at the Yongsan War Memorial in Seoul, South Korea. Their vice presidents spoke instead at Arlington. This year, Mike Pence did not substitute for the president. Trump, who lives a 10-minute car ride from Arlington, hunkered down at the White House.