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enter image description here

This seems like a very dubious picture, from a very clearly politically motivated website, but I was wondering if there was any truth to this picture?

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    The claim about campaigning with Air Force One is misleading at best. It's a complicated issue, but Snopes has a piece on this too snopes.com/fact-check/taxpayers-air-force-one – Justin Lardinois Jul 6 '18 at 22:48
  • I want to edit out the emotive word "defy" which isn't part of the claim, but I am having trouble thinking of a good replacement. – Oddthinking Jul 10 '18 at 12:38
  • @Oddthinking I think that the emotive "defy" fits because the nature of this source plays on the pathos of the audience. The claim is that Obama selfishly disregarded a presidential standard, implying outright disrespect towards the fallen soldiers of the United States. – Dupontrocks11 Jul 10 '18 at 15:39
  • @Oddthinking how about break? – terdon Jul 10 '18 at 15:46
143

No, he did not.

Snopes says:

In fact, any public presidential activity paying tribute to fallen U.S. and Allied soldiers on the anniversary of D-Day has been an exception rather than the rule in recent years. Available White House presidential schedules for 6 June, going back to the beginning of the George W. Bush administration in 2001, list no public events connected to D-Day in 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2003, or 2002.

Between 1944 and 2016 — a span of 72 years — four U.S. presidents have attended D-Day memorial ceremonies a total of seven times, and Barack Obama attended two of the seven.

The reason Snopes talks about "presidential activity [...] on the anniversary of D-Day" instead of going to "the D-Day Monument" is that there is not the D-Day monument.

As Snopes points out, there is the National D-Day Memorial, but no president has visited on D-Day since its opening in 2001, when Bush dedicated it on D-Day. There is the National World War II Memorial, but that has never seen a presidential visit on D-Day. And there are D-Day ceremonies in Normandy, but those have not been visited regularly by presidents (see also Politifact).

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    @HagenvonEitzen That seems to be true. [note that 2012 was actually an election year, so it doesn't seem that unreasonable to make campaign trips] – tim Jul 6 '18 at 14:09
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    @HagenvonEitzen Regarding the Air Force 1 part: I couldn't find any reliable information about that, but would just assume that it's true. I would guess that most presidents travel via Air Force 1 instead of using commercial airplanes (it's probably the same with the current president and his campaign rallies). – tim Jul 6 '18 at 14:16
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    Air Force One is not a particular plane rather it is the call sign of whatever government plane the president happens to be flying on. So if he was flying a government plane it is certainly "Air Force One" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Force_One – AllInOne Jul 6 '18 at 14:49
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    @AllInOne If he was flying in an US Airforce plane. If he's flying in an airplane or helicopter belonging to another service, it'll be "Army/Navy/Marine/Coast Guard One" as appropriate, a civilian aircraft would be Executive One. The president's helicopters are normally flown my Marines so Marine One would be the most common alternate designation. But when G. W. Bush Jr. flew to a carrier the aircraft he was onboard used the Navy One call sign. According to Wiki, only Coast Guard One is a notional designation. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – Dan Neely Jul 6 '18 at 17:12
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    @jpmc26: You might see my CW answer below, where I'm trying to collect all Presidential June 6th activities from 1945 to 2012. Already there are several June 6ths where the President never left the White House, or was traveling to some place not known to have any relevance to D-Day. I'm guessing "public event" means "something listed on the President's official calendar". – Nate Eldredge Jul 7 '18 at 2:24
125

The daily schedules of past US presidents are, in many cases, publicly available. So just for completeness, let's try to collect a list of what the sitting President was doing on June 6 of every year. I think it'll be illustrative.

This is community wiki, so feel free to contribute. Please include links. Any D-Day-related activities should go in bold.

  • 1945 Truman had meetings all day.
  • 1946 Truman had meetings, a luncheon for the president-elect of Colombia, and a press conference.
  • 1947 Truman flew to Kansas City where he participated in activities with the Army's 35th Division, with which he had served in 1918. No direct indication that D-Day was mentioned (though the 35th Division was one of the units that took part in the Normandy invasion). There are no "D-Day monuments" in Missouri to my knowledge. Truman also visited his mother.
  • 1948 Truman traveled by train from Nebraska to Wyoming, giving a series of speeches along the way. None of the speeches mentioned D-Day.

    (Note: 1948 was an election year, and this journey seems to have been, at least partly, a campaign activity. Truman's speeches on June 6 were just fluff and not explicitly political, but some of his other speeches on the same trip seem to clearly be campaign speeches. So it seems reasonable to say that, like Obama in 2012, Truman spent June 6, 1948, campaigning.)

  • 1949 Truman had meetings all day, including lunch with several Cabinet secretaries.

  • 1950 Truman had meetings all day. In the evening he gave a speech to the Better Business Bureau.

  • 1951 Truman had meetings all day. In the evening he went to a Masonic Temple in Alexandria, Virginia.

  • 1952 Truman traveled again to Missouri for a 35th Division reunion.


  • 1953 Eisenhower had meetings at the White House in the morning, then played golf all afternoon.
  • 1954 (10th anniversary of D-Day) Eisenhower spent the day at Camp David, and traveled back to the White House in the evening. No appointments or official activities shown.
  • 1955 Eisenhower spent the day in West Point, NY, attending his 40-year class reunion at the US Military Academy.
  • 1956 Eisenhower had meetings at the White House in the morning, including receiving the newly appointed Chinese Ambassador. He held a press conference, then at noon received a group of Young Republicans. In the afternoon he took a quick flight to his farm in Gettysburg, PA, where he met some guests, then flew back, had a brief meeting, and had dinner with personal friends.
  • 1957 Eisenhower flew from Washington to Florida where he toured the USS Saratoga and spent the night on board.
  • 1958 Eisenhower had a full slate of meetings at the White House in the morning. After lunch he had some more meetings and then went to the South Grounds to practice his golf. Following a rest in the evening, he went to a dinner in his honor at the German Embassy.
  • 1959 Eisenhower was at his farm in Gettysburg. He played golf in the morning, went skeet shooting in the afternoon, then gave a picnic in the evening for White House and Secret Service staff.
  • 1960 Eisenhower was once again in West Point, this time for his 45-year reunion.

  • 1961 Kennedy arrived at the White House in the morning, having just returned from a trip to Europe, including the Vienna Conference. (The trip included a visit to Paris but no mention of Normandy.) He was visited at the White House by members of Congress, and made a TV broadcast, which did not mention D-Day, in the evening. (These records are a bit sketchy.)

  • 1962 Kennedy flew out of Washington in the morning, apparently to give a speech at the US Military Academy. His speech contained a brief, two-sentence reference to D-Day ("Eighteen years ago today..."). He then returned to Washington, and in the afternoon he went to a luncheon given by the President of Cyprus. (Records are sketchy.)

  • 1963 Kennedy traveled from El Paso to San Diego. He gave a speech at San Diego State College, toured the Marine Recruiting Depot and gave another speech there, and toured the aircraft carriers USS Oriskany and Kitty Hawk. No indication as to whether D-Day was mentioned.


  • 1964 (20th anniversary of D-Day) Johnson spent the morning on his ranch in Texas, and visited another ranch by helicopter to meet someone. In the evening he flew back to the White House.

  • 1965 Johnson gave a commencement speech at Catholic University in the morning, had some meetings in the early afternoon, then spent the rest of the afternoon and evening on a cruise down the Potomac (marked STRICTLY OFF RECORD).

  • 1966 Johnson spent the day visiting various people on ranches in Texas. Notable incidents include pulling a puppy into a swimming pool, and a helicopter engine disabled by grass clippings.

  • 1967 Johnson spent most of the day dealing with the outbreak of the Six-Day War. He had several Hot Line conversations with Soviet Premier Kosygin. He also met with Congressional leadership, had dental treatment, and ate broiled chicken for lunch (but did not overeat). That night he gave a televised speech, apparently about the conflict in the Middle East and not about D-Day.

  • 1968 Johnson was awakened early in the morning with the news that Robert F. Kennedy had died. This dominated the day's events and he didn't leave the White House. He gave a short televised speech which dealt only with RFK's death and not with D-Day. He also signed a bill, just passed by Congress, authorizing Secret Service protection for presidential candidates.


  • 1969 (25th anniversary of D-Day) Nixon spent most of his day in meetings with leaders of the draft at a LORAN station in California. Although he was at a military facility, the journal does not record any mentions of D-Day. He also spoke with aides at his home in California that evening.
  • 1970 Nixon spent his morning in meetings. Around 13:00, he flew/drove to Camp David. He spent most of the afternoon and evening making and receiving phone calls. However, he held a private graduation party for President Eisenhower’s grandchildren and watched a movie with them.
  • 1971 Nixon spent most of the day on the phone. He took a break to swim in the pool and watched a movie with his family (he made phone calls during the movie).
  • 1972 Nixon spent most of the day in meetings, flying to Camp David around 16:00.
  • 1973 Nixon spent most of the morning and afternoon in meetings. He had a photo op with the press for just two minutes, and there’s no evidence in the journal that he mentioned D-Day during that time. He spent the evening in a motorboat with with the head of PR for Procter & Gamble. After dinner, he made a few phone calls.
  • 1974 (30th anniversary of D-Day) Nixon spent most of the day in meetings. At 10:44, he bid farewell to the then-Prince of Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the US. At that time, he also had a two-minute photo op with the press. As in 1973, the photo op was short, and in 1974 he was probably too busy seeing off the prince and the ambassador to mention D-Day. Around 13:00, he brought the prince back to the White House in the presence of the press. He had lunch with a large group of people (see pages 18–20 of the PDF), but there’s no mention of D-Day in the journal.

  • 1975 Ford had meetings in the White House most of the day. In the afternoon he hosted "a reception for new non-career federal executives in the Executive Branch."
  • 1976 Ford met with a number of senior Catholic officials in the morning. In the afternoon, he flew to New Jersey, where he designated the Great Falls of the Passaic River as a National Historic Site, and then attended and spoke at several receptions (for "business and civic leaders", and for various groups of New Jersey Republicans). In the evening he flew to Cleveland, Ohio, spoke at several more receptions of similar type, and had a brief press Q+A session. I can find no record of what he talked about in any of these speeches or at the Q+A session.

  • 1977 Carter had meetings all day.
  • 1978 Carter had meetings, got his hair cut in the afternoon, and practiced a speech he was going to give on the 7th in the evening.
  • 1979 Carter had meetings, had a photograph taken with an architect from Georgia, ate lunch with the Chancellor of West Germany, and had a brief press interaction when the Chancellor left.
  • 1980 Carter had meetings and a few photo ops (including one with the Junior Diabetes Foundation). In the evening he helicoptered to Camp David and watched a movie with his wife.

  • 1981 Reagan was at Camp David all day, with an assortment of meetings and phone calls.

  • 1982 Reagan was at the G7 Summit in Versailles, France, but it doesn't appear that he traveled to Normandy at any point during the trip. The previous day, he had given a radio address in which he made reference to the upcoming anniversary of D-Day.

  • 1983 Reagan was at the White House all day. Highlights included awarding a posthumous medal to a deceased Coast Guard sailor, greeting the competitors in the National Spelling Bee, and a concert in the evening.

  • 1984 (40th anniversary of D-Day) Reagan visited the D-Day battlefield in Normandy.

  • 1985 Reagan was in Atlanta, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama. He gave a speech at a high school in Atlanta, which did not mention D-Day. According to his personal diary the trip to Birmingham was a fundraiser for Senator Jeremiah Denton.

  • 1986 Reagan had meetings and various business at the White House, then flew to Camp David in the afternoon, where he watched the movie "Cobra".

  • 1987 Reagan spent the day in Rome, where he met with the Pope. No references to D-Day in his personal diary. (Note to avoid confusion: the PDF for his official schedule erroneously includes his schedule for July 6 where June 6 should go.)

  • 1988 Reagan had meetings at the White House, and gave a speech to a conference of gas industry executives.



  • 1993 Clinton attended church in the morning and played Golf, and in the evening attended the memorial Mass for the 25-year anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy's death at Arlington National Cemetery which was followed by a private reception at Hickory Hill, a Kennedy compound. No reference to D-Day was made in the speech.
  • 1994 (50th anniversary of D-Day) Clinton attends D-Day ceremonies at Pointe du Hoc, Utah Beach, Omaha Beach and Colleville U.S. Cemetery, all as part of a weeklong European tour in celebration of the D-Day anniversary.
  • 1995 Clinton attends various Oval Office meetings, is on the phone to President Assad of Syria and meets Prime Minister Horn of Hungary. In the afternoon he holds a speech at the NGA National Summit on Young Children, which does not mention D-Day.
  • 1996 Clinton attends various events surrounding the National Home Ownership Summit. No D-Day references in the speech. Besides that, a number of meetings and a reception for the White House Environment Day conference.
  • 1997 Clinton had the day off for family time, more precisely for his daughter Chelsea's graduation from Sidwell Fiends School.
  • 1998 Clinton is at Camp David, having the day and evening off.
  • 1999 Clinton is again at Camp David with no scheduled activities apart from some briefing and foreign policy phone calls.
  • 2000 Clinton meets Jordanian King Abdullah at the White House. No other events.

  • 2001 George W. Bush participates in the dedication of the national D day memorial in Virginia. Which is most likely the D day monument mentioned in the info graphic.
  • 2002 George W. Bush speaks at a cemetery in Normandy
  • 2003 George W. Bush
  • 2004 (60th anniversary of D-Day) George W. Bush speaks at a D-Day event in Normandy
  • 2005 George W. Bush
  • 2006 George W. Bush
  • 2007 George W. Bush
  • 2008 George W. Bush

  • 2009 Obama speaks at a D-Day event in Normandy
  • 2010 Obama
  • 2011 Obama meets with the national security team, is interviewed by the media, and meets with senior advisors
  • 2012 Obama holds a campaign rally in California
  • 2013 Obama visits a middle school in North Carolina, meets with the Crown Prince of Bahrain, and speaks at a DSCC event.
  • 2014 (70th anniversary of D-Day) Obama speaks at D-Day ceremony in Normandy
  • 2015 Obama
  • 2016 Obama

  • 2017 Trump
  • 2018 Trump
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    An amazingly comprehensive answer, worthy of the skeptics site. – Fattie Jul 7 '18 at 12:40
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    When Truman catches a train from Nebraska to Wyoming, is that train Executive One? – Anthony Jul 7 '18 at 20:11
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    @Anthony: "Union Pacific One" :-) – Nate Eldredge Jul 7 '18 at 20:45
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    @Anthony Bush actually went three times (that I am aware of) to Normandy on D-Day. Obama seems to be the president that went second-most often (two times). – tim Jul 9 '18 at 14:32
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    @NicHartley: Eisenhower of course had some pretty significant D-Day related activities on June 6, 1944, though he didn't actually arrive in Normandy until June 7. But it's not quite the same... – Nate Eldredge Jul 10 '18 at 0:47

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