Fact check: Trump spent Memorial Day 2020 at commemorative ceremonies – not golfing

The claim: Trump spent Memorial Day in 2020 golfing

It’s common that presidents visit Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day and lay a wreath of flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 

But an image posted May 31 on Facebook and shared almost 500 times claims that former President Donald Trump spent Memorial Day 2020 – his last as president – golfing.

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The post has two pictures side-by-side: on the left, one of Trump approaching his golf cart, and on the right, one of President Joe Biden bowing his head next to a wreath of flowers. 

“What a difference a year makes,” the caption above the images reads.

USA TODAY reached out to the user for comment.

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This is not the first time this claim appeared online. In 2020, opinion columnist Tim O’Brien tweeted two pictures juxtaposed: On the left was Biden, then the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and his wife laying a wreath at a veterans park in Delaware, and on the right was Trump golfing. The caption read, “Different approaches to Memorial Day.”

But Trump didn’t spend Memorial Day 2020 on a golf course.

Trump attended commemorative services

Trump did go golfing on May 23, 2020, the Saturday before Memorial Day. It was his first round since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

The picture shared on social media was taken that day at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va. Trump returned to the golf club on Sunday, May 24 as well.

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But on Memorial Day, May 25, the White House’s official presidential schedule showed Trump was expected to visit Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia and Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland, on Memorial Day.

Indeed, Trump placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and later visited Fort McHenry, where he delivered remarks, USA TODAY reported. C-SPAN video footage from that day also shows he spoke at Fort McHenry and attended the wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington.

No news reports from Memorial Day 2020 reference Trump golfing.

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On this year’s Memorial Day, Biden went to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and placed a wreath. The photo used in the Facebook post was taken there by the Associated Press.

Biden’s other activities around Memorial Day included a May 28 visit to Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia to thank troops. And on May 30, he attended a service at Veterans Memorial Park in New Castle, Delaware.

Our rating: False

We rate the claim that Trump spent Memorial Day 2020 golfing FALSE, based on our research. Trump spent time at his golf resort in Virginia that weekend, but on Memorial Day itself he attended ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery and Fort McHenry National Monument. On Memorial Day 2020, Trump visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, just as Biden is shown doing in the 2021 picture on the post.

Our fact-checking sources:

  • Arlington National Cemetery, accessed June 2, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
  • WayBack Machine, accessed June 2, Tim O’Brien tweet
  • USA TODAY, May 25, 2020, Biden makes first in-person appearance in more than 2 months for Memorial Day remembrance
  • USA TODAY, May 23, 2020, Projecting normalcy, Trump leaves the White house to go golfing in Virginia
  • European Pressphoto Agency, May 23, 2020, President Trump plays golf in Sterling, Virginia by Jim Lo Scalzo
  • European Pressphoto Agency, May 24, 2020, President Trump plays golf in Sterling, Virginia by Jim Lo Scalzo
  • White House, May 25, 2020, Email: Daily guidance and press schedule for Monday, May 25, 2020 
  • USA TODAY, May 25, 2020, ‘As one nation, we mourn.’ Trump marks Memorial Day during coronavirus pandemic
  • C-SPAN, May 25, 2020, Memorial Day Ceremony at Fort McHenry
  • C-SPAN, May 25, 2020, Memorial Day Wreath-Laying Ceremony
  • Associated Press Images, May 31, Biden Memorial Day
  • USA TODAY, May 28, Biden to troops before Memorial Day: ‘We owe you’
  • USA TODAY, May 30, ‘We’re free because they were brave’: Biden honors Memorial Day dead at Arlington National Cemetery

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Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

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