Pence participates in Veterans Day events

Veterans Day 2017
POOL via CNN
Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence cleaned the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Saturday in Washington, D.C. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and a number of volunteers helped them wash the memorial by hand.

Vice President Mike Pence marked Veterans Day on Saturday, cleaning a D.C. memorial by hand and speaking at Arlington National Cemetery.

Early in the morning, Pence, his wife, Karen Pence, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, a former Navy SEAL, joined volunteers to clean the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall, Sinclair Broadcast Group reported.

Pence spent about 40 minutes shaking hands, posing for photos and scrubbing the wall, which is engraved with names of deceased soldiers, The Associated Press reported.

“This is a great way to start Veterans Day,” Pence said.

Moving start to Veterans Day. Thanks to @NewDayUSA volunteers who joined @NatlParkService, @SecretaryZinke, Karen & me to clean the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Also inspiring to meet NPS ranger & veteran James Pierce. To all Veterans, we are grateful for your service & sacrifice. pic.twitter.com/2aCacabxax

— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) November 11, 2017

Pence also attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, noting that President Donald Trump was occupied with his tour of Asia.

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

Pence spoke about the administration’s efforts to serve veterans, service members and their families, NPR reported.

The vice president said the administration expanded the Veterans Choice program and fired “negligent” VA employees. He also discussed the White House’s work to support the U.S. armed forces.

“Before this year is out, we’ll enact the largest investment in our national defense since the days of Ronald Reagan,” Pence said, according to NPR.

Though not a veteran himself, Pence is the son and father of service members, NPR reported. In his remarks, he detailed a conversation he had with a cousin his dad grew up with about how the Korean War changed his father forever.

“I don’t think your dad ever got over the guilt of coming home,” Pence recalled the man saying.

It is deeply humbling for me to stand before so many heroes. #VeteransDay https://t.co/AxHtlDuYR7

— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) November 11, 2017

Earlier during the ceremony, Pence laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, NPR reported.

“Know this,” Pence said, directing his remarks at veterans. “We’re with you. You do not carry that burden alone.”