A video of Joe Biden “yawning and not knowing how to salute” at a Memorial Day event has gone viral on Twitter with more than 3.3 million views.
On Monday, the president delivered an address at the 155th National Memorial Day Observance, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia
Biden has already announced he will run for a second term in the White House in 2024, with polls giving him a strong lead over other prospective Democratic candidates who have announced they are running. The president’s age and mental agility are likely to be major issues in the election, with an ABC/Washington Post poll published earlier this month showing 68 percent of Americans think Biden is too old to serve for another four years.
The 31-second Twitter video was posted by Tim Young, a conservative comedian and political commentator with over 860,000 followers on the platform. It depicts Biden, Harris and Austin arriving to pay their respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, along with a number of military figures.
As they stand before the tomb the president holds his left fist in front of his mouth and stifles what appears to be either a small cough or a yawn. A group of soldiers presents arms and is saluted by Biden, though gaps remain visible between several of his fingers throughout. Harris and Austin don’t salute but instead place one arm over their hearts.
Young commented: “Biden on Memorial Day: Confusion, yawning and not knowing how to salute.”
The post was widely shared, receiving more than 4,400 retweets and 19,000 likes.
There is no requirement for the president to salute U.S. service personnel. Former President Ronald Reagan was the first to do so, journalist Rachel Maddow wrote in her 2011 book, Drift.
The post sparked concern from other Twitter users, with one commenting: “Jesus… He looks so old here. He can barely figure out where to stand.”
Another person wrote: “Biden aside, this is such a disgrace to the Executive Office of the President!”
Another Twitter user questioned this narrative, suggesting Biden was behaving in a respectful manner.
“This tweet appeared on my feed, and I felt compelled to comment based on the misleading tweet that accompanied this video and all the nonsensical responses… if you pay attention, you can clearly see that he [Biden] doesn’t yawn; he actually clears his throat with a small cough,” they wrote.
The user added: “He salutes just like the other military personnel, in the military way. It’s frustrating to see how biased and blind people can be, only focusing on words and completely ignoring the details.”
Newsweek reached out to the White House via email for comment.
In a Memorial Day tribute, posted on Twitter, Biden said: “On Memorial Day, we honor America’s fallen heroes who gave their last full measure of devotion to this nation. We’ll never be able to repay the debt we owe them. But today, we rededicate ourselves to the work for which they gave their lives, and we recommit to supporting the loved ones they left behind.”