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Trump Visits Martin Luther King Memorial


President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, in Washington, Jan. 21, 2019.

U.S. President Donald Trump has visited the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington to honor the slain civil rights leader on the national holiday.

Trump was joined by Vice President Mike Pence as they laid a wreath at the foot of the memorial statue.

Trump told reporters it was a “great day.” He did not respond to questions about the government shutdown during the brief appearance.

The shutdown almost led to the cancellation of a commemorative service for King at an Atlanta church called King's “spiritual home.”

The Ebenezer Baptist Church is part of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park and has been closed because of the government shutdown. The annual service was in doubt until Delta Air Lines, which is headquartered in Atlanta, gave the National Park Service a grant to reopen the site.

King's daughter, Rev. Bernice King, said in the service Monday honoring King that Washington is in a state of crisis.

“Our humanity is literally on the verge of digressing to two Americas and becoming the dis-United States of America,” she said.

Also Monday, several Democratic presidential hopefuls attended events to honor the civil rights leader. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has said he is considering a presidential run but has not officially announced a candidacy, attended a breakfast celebrating King's life that was held by the Rev. Al Sharpton in Washington.

Sen. Kamala Harris from California used the holiday to launch her presidential campaign in an attempt to become the first black female president.

Every year on the third Monday in January, Americans honor the slain civil rights leader who in the 1950s and 1960s organized nonviolent protests against southern segregation, the struggle for black equality and voting rights.

Many around the country spend the holiday commemorating King's tireless work to end racism by participating in community service projects. In 1994, the U.S. Congress honored that community spirit by designating the King holiday a national day of service.