Today is Veterans Day, 2018 and Donald Trump is embarrassing himself (and us) in France right now.
President Donald Trump could not attend a commemoration in France for U.S. soldiers and marines killed during World War One on Saturday because rain made it impossible to arrange transport, the White House said.
The president was scheduled to pay tribute at a ceremony at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Belleau, about 85 km (50 miles) east of Paris, with his wife Melania. But light steady rain and a low cloud ceiling prevented his helicopter from traveling to the site.
“(Their attendance) has been canceled due to scheduling and logistical difficulties caused by the weather,” the White House said in a statement, adding that a delegation lead by Chief of Staff John Kelly, a retired general, went instead.
We can ask about the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Belleau and its importance. From the American Battle Monuments Commission
With headstones lying in a sweeping curve, the 42.5-acre Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial in France, sits at the foot of Belleau Wood. The cemetery contains the graves of 2,289 war dead, most of whom fought in the vicinity and in the Marne Valley in the summer of 1918. The memorial chapel sits on a hillside, decorated with sculptured and stained-glass details of wartime personnel, equipment and insignia. Inscribed on its interior wall are 1,060 names of the missing. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified. In 1940 during World War II the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery chapel was damaged due to heavy fighting in the vicinity. All damage was repaired except for one shell hole in the chapel, left as a reminder of what took place.
Belleau Wood adjoins the cemetery and contains many vestiges of World War I. A monument at the flagpole commemorates the valor of the U.S. Marines who captured much of this ground in 1918.
That would be the Battle of Belleau Wood. How important is that battle to the USMC?
Take a look at this, written 20 years ago, at Defense.gov
Little has changed in the 80 years since 8,000 U.S. Marines, hundreds of Army soldiers and a handful of Navy medical corpsmen fought a prolonged battle to halt the Germans' advance toward Paris, a mere 30 miles away. It was here, in a former hunting preserve named Belleau Wood, that they faced what Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Charles C. Krulak considers the Marines' first crucible.
France, with the help of the United States, had formed a last line of defense along the Marne River near Chateau Thierry. The U.S. 4th Marine Brigade, made up of the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments, was in the center with the French 167th Division on its left and U.S. Army 3rd Brigade to the right. The advancing German spearhead struck the Marine brigade near Belleau Wood on June 4.
New to Europe and the First World War, the combat-ready Marines encountered retreating, battle-worn veteran French troops, who predicted only doom. Turn back, the French advised.
"Retreat, hell. We just got here," responded Marine Capt. Lloyd Williams of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. Untried, but soon to prove their mettle, the Marines surged through a hail of machine gun fire to take Hill 142 on June 6.
During a series of attacks and counterattacks on the way to the wood and in nearby villages, the Americans prevailed despite confusion and poor communications. Expert marksmen surprised German foes, hitting their targets from hundreds of yards away. Individual Marines charged German machine gun nests. When officers fell, sergeants took the lead. When sergeants fell, corporals led the way. When corporals fell, privates fought on.
The Marine Corps lost more men on June 6 than it had in all the rest of its history. The 4th Brigade suffered 31 officer casualties and 1,056 enlisted -- of those numbers, six officers and 222 enlisted men were killed or later died of wounds.
But it wasn't just the Marines who died there that makes this battle important. A more modern Marine Corps also grew out of the lessons learned at Belleau Wood:
The United States Marine Corps entered World War I as a small arm of naval infantry. Three decades later, the Marine Corps was poised for war with enhanced amphibious and aviation capabilities that proved vital in defeating Imperial Japan. Pivotal to the transformation of the Marine Corps was the Battle of Belleau Wood in 1918. The Battle of Belleau Wood, although on land, led to the development and refining of the Marines’ amphibious doctrine. The Marine Corps’ amphibious innovation was motivated in part by a threat to its organizational independence and was aided by lessons in logistics learned at Belleau Wood. Additionally, experiences on the Western Front with artillery and enemy airpower helped motivate the expansion of Marine aviation and artillery, which together led to the development of combined arms capabilities. Without the lessons from Belleau Wood, and the integration of them, the Marines would have been much less adequately prepared for conflict with Japan in World War II.
The Battle of Belleau Wood - The Marines' first crucible.
And the place Donald Trump couldn't be bothered to visit because of the rain
He did, however, tweet the Marine Corps a happy 243rd. It is, of course, a picture of himself:
So it's all good.