Fact check: Both Biden and Harris commemorated veterans on Memorial Day, despite false claims

The claim: Biden and Harris didn’t acknowledge veterans on Memorial Day

On May 31, America commemorated Memorial Day, remembering those who died in military service and marking the start of the summer.

In the days leading up to the holiday, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris became the subjects of online criticism for not yet acknowledging the holiday. However, much of this criticism came before Memorial Day itself.

“Not one word about vets… Not one word about our fallen heroes… Not one word about the troops… Not one word about the USA… Not one word about Memorial Day and what it means… Joe and Kamala – you are embarrassing,” claims a May 30 Facebook post with screenshots of Biden and Harris’ tweets.

This post and others like it on Instagram and Facebook drew an array of strong reactions from commentators critical of the president and vice president.

“Unbelievably disgusting for prez and Vice to behave this way,” wrote one commenter on a similar post that has since been deleted.

In a May 30 tweet, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley called Harris, “unprofessional and unfit.”

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But this is an absurd line of reasoning given the timing of the post and its supposed evidence.

Criticism predated holiday

The criticism highlights two tweets Biden and Harris shared on May 29, two days before the holiday, as evidence they did not honor veterans. Yet both the president and vice president spent time with military personnel on May 28 and posted about veterans and attended memorial ceremonies throughout the weekend. 

The May 29 tweet that brought Biden under fire read, “Stay cool this weekend, folks.”  Harris’s May 29  tweet said, “Enjoy the long weekend.”

Criticism of these tweets disregarded the many Memorial Day-related posts that followed from Biden and Harris. Throughout the weekend critics continued to post about these two tweets, taking the May 30 Facebook post as a summary of Biden and Harris’ actions on Memorial Day even though it was posted the day before the holiday.

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USA TODAY reached out to several accounts that posted the claim for comment.

In her response, Facebook user Katelynn Connelly Felvus asserted Biden and Harris only acknowledged the holiday after they received backlash online.

May 31, 2021: President Joe Biden speaks during the National Memorial Day Observance at the Memorial Amphitheater in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. (Photo: Alex Brandon, AP)

Biden and Harris did acknowledge veterans

But Biden and Harris did pay tribute to veterans, both before Memorial Day and on 

On May 28, Biden traveled to Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia to thank troops and their families for their sacrifices ahead of the holiday weekend.

Biden attended an annual Memorial Day service at Veterans Memorial Park in New Castle, Delaware on May 30 (before this claim was posted on Facebook). On Memorial Day, Biden, Harris, first lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Doug Emhoff all attended a Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington Cemetery.  

In his speeches, Biden spoke about his late son Beau Biden, who served in Iraq and died of brain cancer in 2015. 

US Vice President Kamala Harris gives out diplomas to US Naval Academy graduates during their commencement ceremony. (Photo: Jim Watson, AFP via Getty Images)

On Memorial Day, Biden posted four tweets honoring veterans and posted on Instagram and Facebook.

Harris’ social media accounts reveal she also acknowledged Memorial Day and veterans several times over the holiday weekend. 

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On May 28 Harris gave the commencement speech at the U.S. Naval Academy’s graduation, during which she thanked members of the military, the graduates and military families. She posted about it on Twitter and Instagram.

She also tweeted about the military and veterans on May 30 and May 31 and shared posts on Instagram and Facebook. 

Our rating: False

We rate the claim that Biden and Harris neglected to acknowledge veterans on Memorial Day weekend FALSE, because it is not supported by our research. Both Biden and Harris commemorated the holiday in several social media posts and attended memorial services. The timing of this claim makes little sense since it was posted before Memorial Day itself. But even then it was wrong, as Biden took part in a Memorial Day observance on May 30, and Harris tweeted a thank you to the troops the same day.

Our fact-check sources:

  • President Joseph Biden, May 29, tweet
  • 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
  • President Joseph Biden, May 30, Twitter video
  • President Joseph Biden, May 31, Twitter video
  • USA TODAY, May 30, Beau Biden, son of vice president, dies of brain cancer
  • President Joseph Biden, May 28, Twitter video
  • President Joseph Biden, accessed June 1, Twitter profile
  • President Joseph Biden, May 31, Instagram post
  • President Joseph Biden, May 31, Facebook post
  • Vice President Kamala Harris, May 29, tweet
  • USA TODAY, May 28, US Naval Academy celebrates 2021 graduates
  • Vice President Kamala Harris, May 29, tweet
  • Vice President Kamala Harris, May 28, Instagram post
  • Vice President Kamala Harris, May 30, tweet
  • Vice President Kamala Harris, May 31, tweet
  • Vice President Kamala Harris, May 31, Instagram post
  • Vice President Kamala Harris, May 31, Facebook post

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

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