Vice President Pence Speaks at Arlington National Cemetery to Commemorate Veterans Day

Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Saturday, Nov. 11 in Washington, D.C.
Alex Brandon/AP

With the commander-in-chief busy touring the Asian continent, Vice President Mike Pence stepped in Saturday to commemorate Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery with a speech that ended on a remarkably personal note.

Pence — dressed in a black suit, white shirt and a striped red tie — began his remarks just before noon to a crowd of veterans and their supporters on an unseasonably cold November morning by expressing President Trump’s greetings.

“Our president is halfway around the world, but I know his heart is here,” Pence told the crowd.

The vice president used the speech to defend the Trump administration as a stalwart champion of service members and their families, at one point listing off efforts made to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Let me be clear: veterans’ benefits are not entitlements. They are earned,” he said in a line that garnered applause.

Pence said the Trump administration had expanded the Veterans Choice Program and “already fired or suspended over 1,500 VA employees for negligent behavior.”

He also told his audience the White House is working to funnel more resources to the armed forces, declaring “before this year is out, we’ll enact the largest investment in our national defense since the days of Ronald Reagan.”