Melania Trump's farewell message: First Lady urges a halt to violence, says she's grieving for US COVID-19 victims

Melania Trump has addressed Americans for the final time as First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS), encouraging them to choose "peace over violence" ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration as President.

The outgoing First Lady will hand over her duties on Wednesday, January 20 (local time), when her husband Donald Trump officially relinquishes power to President-elect Biden.

In a message posted from the official FLOTUS Twitter account, Melania thanked America and eulogised about her time in the White House before urging US citizens to forego violence and seek to understand one another.

"Be passionate in everything you do but always remember that violence is never the answer and will never be justified," she said.

"Do not lose sight of your integrity and values. Use every opportunity to show consideration for another person and build good habits into your daily lives.

"In all circumstances, I ask every American 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."

The message is timely given there are fears Biden's inauguration will result in scenes of violence similar to those that occurred in Washington DC earlier this month, when insurrectionists stormed the Capitol building in an attempt to force Congress to retract Trump's defeat in the 2020 presidential election.

But many will argue Melania's message of peace is a hollow one given her husband's second impeachment last week for inciting insurrection by urging his extremist supporters to "fight" the decision to ratify the election results.

And another sentiment - this one offering condolences to those who'd seen their family and friends die as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic - is likely to go down poorly with some Americans.

Donald Trump has drawn heavy criticism for his management of the coronavirus crisis, which has resulted in the infections of more than 24 million US citizens and deaths of another 400,000.

Nevertheless, Melania expressed her grief for those who have lost loved ones to the disease and said the pandemic has "seen the best of America shine through".

"Students have made cards and delivered groceries to our senior citizens. Teachers have worked twice as hard to keep our children learning. Families have come together to provide meals, supplies, comfort and friendship to those in need," she said.

"Every life is precious and I ask all Americans to use caution and common sense to protect the vulnerable as millions of vaccines are now being delivered."

In her final statements, Melania described her four years in the White House as "unforgettable".

"As Donald and I conclude our time in the White House, I think of all of the people that I have taken for me in my heart and their incredible stories of love, patriotism and determination.

"No words can express the depth of my gratitude for the privilege of having served as your First Lady."