By Michael Hernandez
President Donald Trump made a surprise, but brief visit to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in the nation's capital Monday as the U.S. remembered the civil rights icon on his holiday.
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence participated in a moment of silence and wreath laying at King's imposing granite statue as reporters looked on.
"It's a great day. It's a beautiful day. Thank you for being here. Appreciate it," Trump said in brief remarks that did not address the Baptist minister and activist.
The presidential visit was not previously announced. A schedule for Monday released by the White House had no public events included.
Trump directly addressed King in his second tweet of the day after earlier boasting of manufacturing growth in the U.S.
"Today we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for standing up for the self-evident truth Americans hold so dear, that no matter what the color of our skin or the place of our birth, we are all created equal by God. #MLKDay," he said.
Trump faced criticism when he did not attend a public event last year on King's holiday, instead choosing to golf at his resort in Florida.
Presidents since Bill Clinton have participated in service projects to mark the day, and Trump released a presidential proclamation encouraging "all Americans to recommit themselves to Dr. King’s dream by engaging in acts of service to others, to their community, and to our Nation."
This year, Trump stayed in Washington amid an ongoing partial government shutdown, which entered day 31 on Monday with hundreds of thousands of federal employees continuing to miss their paychecks.
The memorial site Trump visited is administered by the National Parks Service, which has been unfunded throughout the budget standoff.