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News Wrap: Trump pays tribute to fallen service members on Memorial Day

May 29, 2017 at 6:50 PM EDT
In our news wrap Monday, President Trump joined other Americans around the country in observing a national day of remembrance, with remarks and ceremonies at Arlington Cemetery. Also, North Korea defied international pressure by firing another test ballistic missile, which landed in Japanese waters.
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WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Americans spent this Memorial Day honoring the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice. Since 1775, more than 1.2 million Americans have died serving our country.

Lisa Desjardins reports.

LISA DESJARDINS: On this national day of remembrance, there were large events, like a new president laying a wreath to an unknown soldier.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We honor the noblest among us.

LISA DESJARDINS: At Arlington National Cemetery, President Trump expressed what he called undying gratitude.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We pay tribute to those brave souls who raced in to gunfire, roared into battle, and ran into hell to face down evil. They made their sacrifice not for fame, or for money, or even for glory, but for country.

LISA DESJARDINS: Afterward, Mr. Trump stopped with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly at the grave of Kelly’s son Robert, who was killed in Afghanistan.

From there, the president met other families in Section 60 of the cemetery, where military members killed most recently, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, are buried.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: He’s looking down. And he’s very proud of you.

WOMAN: Thank you so much. Thank you for everything you’re doing for the country.

LISA DESJARDINS: But, for many, the holiday was defined by hometowns and smaller personal events. In Raleigh, North Carolina, the day was for supporting survivors.

MAN: And we have a lot of Vietnam veterans in our detachment, so a lot of those guys have seen firsthand death, losing friends in their units, and so it’s just emotional for us.

LISA DESJARDINS: At a military parade in Illinois, it was a day to salute veterans.

And at the Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as in many places, it was a day of simple, important remembrance.

For the PBS NewsHour, I’m Lisa Desjardins.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Today, more than 1.3 million Americans are serving on active duty.

In the day’s other news: North Korea fired another ballistic missile, the latest in a series of tests, defying international pressure. The short-range missile landed in Japanese territorial waters.

In Tokyo, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary said there were no immediate reports of damage, but he delivered a sharp rebuke.

YOSHIHIDE SUGA, Chief Cabinet Secretary, Japan (through interpreter): North Korea continues taking provocative actions, despite the repeated resolutions at the U.N. Security Council. Hence, it is necessary to apply pressure. It is not the time for dialogue for dialogue’s sake. We cannot tolerate these repeated actions and we lodge a strong protest against North Korea, criticizing them in the strongest form.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Back in this country, President Trump also weighed in on the test-launch, tweeting that “North Korea has shown great disrespect for their neighbor China.”

The White House also condemned the fatal stabbing of two men aboard a train in Portland, Oregon, last week. They were trying to help two young Muslim women who were being harassed by a white supremacist. One of the good samaritans who died was an Army veteran. A third man who also came to their aid was badly wounded, but survived.

This morning, the president’s official White House Twitter account tweeted: “The violent attacks in Portland on Friday are unacceptable. The victims were standing up to hate and intolerance. Our prayers are with them.”

The president tweets regularly from his personal account, which has not made mention of the Portland attack.

Rescuers today in Sri Lanka recovered more bodies, raising the death toll from heavy floods and mudslides to at least 169 people. Crews worked around-the-clock to identify bodies and clear debris. More than 100 people are still missing since last Thursday’s downpour.

WOMAN (through interpreter): My house and small shop were totally damaged by the floods. All my household items are gone with the water. Nothing is left, even jewelry, money and all our earnings gone with the water. We managed to survive.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Seventy-five thousand people have now fled to relief camps set up in the country’s south and west, as the country braces for yet more rain.

This holiday weekend became a travel nightmare for British Airways customers. A power supply problem brought the airline’s computer systems to a halt, stranding some 75,000 travelers. But, today, flights returned to a near-normal schedule.

British Airways’ chief executive said his company is working to determine what went wrong.

ALEX CRUZ, CEO, British Airways: We are profusely, profusely apologetic about what has happened. We are very conscious of the hardship that many of our customers have had to go through on their way to their holidays, sometimes on the way to personal events.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Cruz said that, by day’s end, around two-thirds of passengers whose flights were canceled over the weekend will reach their destinations.

And a passing of note: We learned today that renowned sportswriter and commentator Frank Deford died yesterday in Key West, Florida. His career spanned five decades, most notably writing for “Sports Illustrated” and providing commentary on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” from which he just retired just this month after 37 years.

Deford’s views were always delivered with his signature passion and humor. He was in many ways the quintessential American sports fan, right down to his disdain for the internationally beloved game of soccer, as in this 2006 NewsHour interview.

FRANK DEFORD, Sportswriter: Americans have proven over and over again that they don’t like the sport. There’s not enough scoring. There are too many ties. It’s a very frustrating game.

What is called brilliant in soccer is an incomplete pass in football. And the sport itself is overdramatized with the falling down. There’s entirely too many — a high percentage of scores are because of penalties, which are very dubious. And, simply, we have shown over and over again that we reject that.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: In 2013, President Obama awarded Deford the National Humanities Medal, the first sportswriter to ever receive the honor.

Frank Deford was 78 years old.

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