As commander-in-chief, the president typically honors soldiers who lost their lives on Memorial Day — but how the president pays their respects has shifted since Trump took office. Trump's and Obama's Memorial Day tweets over the past few years have been drastically different. While this year's posts highlight how Trump has changed the presidency in the age of Twitter, their contrasting Memorial Day messages aren't exactly new.
President Trump's 2018 message started off normal enough with "Happy Memorial Day!" but then diverted attention to himself. "Those who died for our great country would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today," he tweeted, adding that the United States currently has the "best economy in decades."
Showcasing a much different approach, former President Obama's 2018 Memorial Day tweet centered around members of the military and working toward equal opportunities for everyone.
"We can never truly repay the debt we owe our fallen heroes," he wrote on Monday. "But we can remember them, honor their sacrifice, and affirm in our own lives those enduring ideals of justice, equality, and opportunity for which generations of Americans have given that last full measure of devotion."
Last year was a little different, as Trump posted a hostile tweet about North Korea right after acknowledging the holiday. "North Korea has shown great disrespect for their neighbor, China, by shooting off yet another ballistic missile...but China is trying hard!" he tweeted seven minutes after an initial Memorial Day post.
His previous tweet read: "Honoring the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to America. Home of the free, because of the brave."
Obama, on the other hand, kept it simple in 2017 with a photo of wife Michelle Obama and himself walking through Arlington National Cemetery. "Forever grateful for the service and sacrifice of all who fought to protect our freedoms and defend this country we love," he wrote. The post marked his first Memorial Day in eight years spent outside the White House
As you may recall, Memorial Day 2016 fell right in the middle of Trump's presidential campaign. He tweeted a total of 13 times throughout the day. While one tweet read, "Have a great Memorial Day and remember that we will soon MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!," the others centered around his plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and called out a federal judge who ruled against Trump University.
Obama tweeted twice, with one post linking to his weekly address remembering fallen soldiers. In his second tweet, Obama said: "Today, and every day, let us remember the servicemen and women we have lost."
Looking back even further to 2015, Trump was weeks away from officially launching his bid for president. He didn't acknowledge the holiday on Twitter, but did tweet nine positive quotes about himself that others had posted. He also tweeted: "The middle-class has become the new poor in this country and our incompetent politicians are unable to do anything about it.They don't care!"
Obama didn't tweet at all that day, instead speaking at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Virginia's Arlington Cemetery. “This hallowed ground is more than a final resting place of heroes,” he told the crowd. “It is a reflection of America itself. It is a reflection of our history.”
Trump continued his Memorial Day tradition of heavy tweeting this year by posting multiple videos of his speech at Arlington Cemetery and a quote from a law professor who criticized Sally Yates, the former deputy attorney general, on Fox News.
Old habits die hard, after all.