A reception honouring military families at the White House took on an unusually high profile Monday night. The gathering, which honoured the relatives of slain service members, marked the return to public life of first lady Melania Trump after more than three weeks during which she was has not held or attended any official events.

On May 14, she was hospitalized for five days following a procedure to treat what the White House called a benign kidney condition.

Melania Trump had last been seen on May 10 standing alongside her husband at Joint Base Andrews as the couple greeted three Americans who had been released from prison in North Korea. Four days later, the White House said in a statement that she had undergone a successful embolization procedure.

Monday, members of several of the Gold Star families who were invited into what the White House said was a closed reception were excited to hear from President Donald Trump and lay eyes on Melania Trump.

According to one attendee, Trump joked about the rumours that have circulated during his wife’s long absence and teased that they aren’t breaking up. “Isn’t that right, honey?” he asked as Melania Trump laughed from the front row. She made no official remarks during the event.

The President also said: “Melania had a little problem a couple weeks ago, but she wouldn’t miss this for anything.”

About 40 families participated in the candlelight ceremony in which the names of the fallen were read aloud. The event lasted more than two hours.



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