Trump celebrates Black History Month at White House event

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump applaud during the National African American History Month reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Donald Trump, center with first lady Melania Trump and Surgeon General Jerome Adams, left, speaks during a National African American History Month reception in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
President Donald Trump, and first lady Melania Trump hug Surgeon General Jerome Adams, center, during a National African American History Month reception in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Surgeon General Jerome Adams, speaks during a National African American History Month reception hosted by President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump marked African American History Month by pledging Tuesday to make real the vision of "every American patriot" who fought and sacrificed for freedom.

Trump celebrated the annual observance at a White House reception under the theme of "African Americans in Times of War."

The president saluted black Americans who have served in the military since the Revolution for giving "their hearts, their sweat, their blood and their very lives to defend the United States, its flag and its highest ideals."

He said they helped defend for all Americans the dream of a colorblind society that inspired such civil rights pioneers as Frederick Douglass, Harriett Tubman, Booker T. Washington, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.

"It is the dream of a nation where every citizen, regardless of color, religion or background, can grow up to succeed and to thrive," said Trump, who was joined by first lady Melania Trump as he addressed an East Room gathering, where several Cabinet secretaries mingled with invited guests. "A nation where every family is safe, where every community can prosper and where all Americans can stand tall and proud and free."

Trump said, "This vision of freedom, equality and dignity lives in the heart of every American patriot and, just like so many African Americans throughout our history who have struggled and sacrificed for freedom, we must do our part to make that vision real for every single American."

"As long as we have faith in our citizens, confidence in our values and trust in God, we will not fail," he said.

Vice President Mike Pence marked the occasion earlier Tuesday by visiting the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, a facility he described as "hallowed ground where we remember a difficult past."

"But we remember our progress toward a more perfect union, a progress driven by the sacrifice, the courage, the idealism and the service in uniform of African American men and women," Pence said.

Trump visited the museum last year.

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