Social media was flooded with tweets about Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day on Thursday, Dec. 7, honoring the thousands of American lives that were lost when the Japanese attacked a U.S. naval base in Hawaii. Among those who tweeted about Pearl Harbor was President Trump and Melania Trump — except both of them had mistakes in their tweets that critics quickly jumped on.
Trump's tweet included a quote from President Franklin D. Roosevelt's monumental speech declaring war on Japan. Roosevelt declared:
Yesterday, December 7, 1941, — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
Trump, however, bungled that line, tweeting instead:
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day - "A day that will live in infamy!" December 7, 1941
Meanwhile, Melania, initially and accidentally, posted the wrong date of the incident. Her tweet, which stated that the Pearl Harbor attack happened on Nov. 7, 1941, was off by one month. It was quickly deleted and replaced with a tweet listing the correct date.
Today we honor Pearl Harbor Heroes. 11/7/1941. Thank you to all military for your courage and sacrifice!
The first couple was excoriated by many people on Twitter, but some noted that it wasn't entirely out of the norm — at least for the president, whose typos in tweets are often derided.
But Trump isn't the first top-level politician to mess up a Pearl Harbor Day message. In 1988, George H. W. Bush, who was vice president at the time, confused a roomful of veterans when he announced in a speech:
Today, you remember. I wonder how many Americans remember. Today is Pearl Harbor Day.
It was, in fact, September — three months ahead of the actual Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
Considering Trump's propensity for making shocking statements, his tweet on Thursday was rather mild in comparison. Unlike other times his tweets contained typos, Trump did not delete Roosevelt's misquote. He also shared a video on his account speaking about Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, with the caption:
Today, our entire nation pauses to REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR—and the brave warriors who on that day stood tall and fought for America. God Bless our HEROES who wear the uniform, and God Bless the United States of America.
Never one to avoid controversy, Trump made heads turn once more in his Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day speech later on Thursday. Addressing one of the veterans standing behind him, Trump described the Pearl Harbor bombing as "a pretty wild scene," and asked the 93-year-old veteran, "You'll never forget that, right?"
For a president, who has shown no qualms about running off script during solemn official events, it wasn't entirely out of character. Just weeks before at a White House event honoring Native American Code Talkers who served in World War II, Trump stunned the public when he called Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren "Pocahontas," a term that many Native Americans have expressed disdain for — particularly as Trump uses it. He told the honorees:
You were here long before any of us were here. Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas. ... But do you know what? I like you.
Trump has a record of bungling important historical facts. He has implied that abolitionist Frederick Douglass was still alive and asked why the Civil War couldn't have just "worked out" in the first place. Given those standards, misquoting Roosevelt's line from one of the most famous speeches in American history is mild in comparison.