WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS — On the eve of Independence Day, President Donald Trump honored a request by his friend, Gov. Jim Justice, and came to The Greenbrier resort to salute the military and veterans.
Trump spoke to an enthusiastic crowd at a invitation-only event billed as a “Salute to Service,” part of this year’s PGA Tour event at the famed resort.
“From Bunker Hill to the beaches of Normandy to the jungles of Vietnam, Americans have given their final measure, their last breath in defense of their country,” Trump told a crowd sprinkled with uniformed service members and veterans. “Now, we must fulfill our sacred duty to them.”
Trump said his administration increased military spending, reduced wait times at veterans hospitals and made it possible for vets to receive treatment from private doctors if a VA physician is not available.
The president developed a friendship with Justice, especially after the governor switched political parties, and Justice apparently used that relationship to bring Trump to The Greenbrier. “He did switch from Democrat to Republican, so it’s hard to say ‘No, I’m not coming,’ ” Trump joked.
This year’s Greenbrier tournament was renamed “A Salute to our Military at the Greenbrier” and Trump picked up on that theme.
“They risked it all,” the president said. “Every time we see an American in uniform, anytime we have a chance to shake the hand of a veteran and whenever we hear the stories of our warriors, we are reminded of how truly blessed we are to live in this country.
“Let us always remember that we are one people and one nation, saluting one great American flag.”
Trump also touched on West Virginia’s economic rebound, the 2018 midterm election, his search for a Supreme Court nominee and immigration.
“I love this state, which I happened to win by 42 points,” Trump said. He credited Gov. Justice for the state’s economic improvement, adding, “He’s done a great job.”
Justice introduced the president, calling it an honor “for little Jimmy Justice to be able to introduce the man that has done more for this country than anyone can ever imagine. … He’s a man that has passion and energy.”
Trump referenced his recent interviews with Supreme Court candidates who are in the running to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. “We’re going to give you a great one. We’re going to announce it Monday.”
Some prominent Dem-ocrats called for dismantling the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE), but Trump came to its defense: “We’re not abandoning ICE; just the opposite,” he said.
The president gave a shoutout to Medal of Honor recipient Woody Williams, of West Virginia, who was in the audience. “Woody, you are a national treasure, and Woody, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.” The crowd gave Williams a standing ovation.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, who has a complicated relationship with Trump, sent out his own statement praising Williams. “President Trump and I agree that Medal of Honor winner Woody Williams is a West Virginia treasure and true American hero,” the senator stated, noting that Williams leads Veterans and Military Families for Manchin.
The president briefly reference Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s race against the incumbent Manchin. “He’s a tough, strong guy,” Trump said of Morrisey, “and now he’s got another race. You may be surprised to see what is going to happen.”