Trump places flags at Arlington graves in annual Memorial Day ritual

PHOTO: A soldier from the U.S. Armys "Old Guard," the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, places American flags in front of more than 228,000 headstones in Arlington National Cemetery, May 23, 2019.PlayJacqueline Yoo/ABC News
WATCH Arlington National Cemetery's Old Guard Carry A Heavy Burden

President Donald Trump traveled to Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday to take part in the annual "flags in" Memorial Day ritual, a somber tradition honoring service members killed in the nation's wars.

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On a hot and sunny afternoon, with first lady Melania Trump, dressed in black, at his side, the president took small American flags and pushed them into the ground in front of several headstones, including that of Frank Buckles, the last U.S. World War I veteran to pass on.

PHOTO: A soldier from the U.S. Armys Old Guard, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, places American flags in front of more than 228,000 headstones in Arlington National Cemetery, May 23, 2019. Jacqueline Yoo/ABC News
A soldier from the U.S. Army's "Old Guard," the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, places American flags in front of more than 228,000 headstones in Arlington National Cemetery, May 23, 2019.

Eight active duty soldiers assisted the Trumps.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump visit Arlington National Cemetery for the annual Flags In ceremony ahead of Memorial Day Thursday, May 23, 2019, in Arlington, Va. Andrew Harnik/AP
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump visit Arlington National Cemetery for the annual Flags In ceremony ahead of Memorial Day Thursday, May 23, 2019, in Arlington, Va.

All told, soldiers from the U.S. Army's "Old Guard" -- the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment-- carefully places American flags in front of more than 228,000 headstones on Thursday as they have done now for more than 60 years.

Each flag must be placed at the center, exactly one foot in front of the headstone.

PHOTO: American flag placed in front of 228,000 headstones in Arlington National Cemetery, May 23, 2019. Jacqueline Yoo/ABC News
American flag placed in front of 228,000 headstones in Arlington National Cemetery, May 23, 2019.

All flags will be removed after Memorial Day, before the cemetery opens to the public.