First Lady Melania Trump has advised Americans that “violence is never the answer” in her White House farewell speech.
Mrs Trump said it had been “the greatest honour of my life to serve as first lady of the United States” and paid tribute to the military, law enforcement workers and those on the frontline of the pandemic.
She also urged Americans to follow her “Be Best” initiative – a signature issue during her four years as first lady.
Mrs Trump said: “Be passionate in everything you do but always remember that violence is never the answer and will never be justified.”
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She added: “As the world continues to confront the COVID-19 pandemic I thank all of the nurses, doctors, health care workers, manufacturing workers, truck drivers and so many others who are working to save lives.”
Coronavirus deaths are rising in nearly two-thirds of American states as a winter surge pushes the overall toll toward 400,000 amid warnings that a new, highly contagious variant is taking hold.
“I ask all Americans to use caution and common sense to protect the vulnerable as millions of vaccines are now available,” Mrs Trump added.
There was no mention of the incoming Biden administration in the message and Mrs Trump has reportedly not invited future first lady Jill Biden for a walk through of the private living quarters, what has become a tradition in transitions of power.
Her husband has already announced he will not attend the inauguration on Wednesday – he’s the first outgoing president to skip the ceremony in 152 years – and will depart for Florida hours before Joe Biden’s swearing-in.
Mrs Trump’s message was posted on the @FLOTUS Twitter account. The president was suspended from mainstream social media sites after a pro-Trump mob stormed Capitol Hill, leading to violence which left five people dead.
The first lady ended her video by calling on Americans to unite: “In all circumstances, I ask every American to be an ambassador of Be Best. To focus on what unites us. To rise above what divides us.
“To always choose love over hatred, peace over violence, and others before yourself.
“Together, as one national family, we can continue to be the light of hope for future generations and carry on America’s legacy of raising our nation to greater heights through our spirit of courage, goodness and faith.
“No words can express the depth of my gratitude for the privilege of having served as your First Lady. To all the people of this country: You will be in my heart forever. Thank you. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.”