President Trump’s 4th of July “Salute to America” — National Celebration or Costly Political Rally?

President Trump’s 4th of July “Salute to America” — National Celebration or Costly Political Rally?

President Donald Trump is showing his love for America with his celebratory presidential address scheduled for tonight at the Lincoln Memorial. The festivities will include the annual “Capital Fourth” concert and D.C.’s usual parade accompanied by a few, more contentious, additions such as the inclusion of heavy military equipment and the heads of major military branches.

Honoring the five branches of the military, some are excitedly preparing for the event but others are criticizing the celebration. The reaction from some is that Trump is muddying the line between politics and the military, creating questionable motives behind the much anticipated bash. Is this truly a holiday for the American people or does it politicize nonpartisanship with an eerie similarity to Russian and Chinese events. Either way, Trump intends to show his appreciation and pride for America regardless of the negative commentary.

Trump announced the extravagant affair back in February with a tweet saying:

“HOLD THE DATE! We will be having one of the biggest gatherings in the history of Washington, D.C., on July 4th. It will be called “A Salute To America” and will be held at the Lincoln Memorial. Major fireworks display, entertainment and an address by your favorite President, me!”

But what really lit the flame behind the idea? Trump has said he got the idea while celebrating Bastille Day in France two years ago. During an Oval Office interview a few days after, President Trump told New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, “it was one of the most beautiful parades I have ever seen. And in fact, we should do one day down Pennsylvania Ave.”

A few months later during a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron Trump said,

“To a large extent, because of what I witnessed, we may do something like that on July Fourth in Washington down Pennsylvania Avenue, if I have your approval.”  

He went on to say,

“We’re gonna have to try and top it, but we had a lot of planes going over and a lot of military might, and it was really a beautiful thing to see.”


The President had his mind set on the celebration to take place on either Veteran’s Day or the 4th of July in 2018 but the estimated cost of up to $92 million dollars (funded by tax payers) caused disputes. Some may call him hypocritical because contrarily, Trump cancelled joint war exercises with South Korea saying the $14 million dollar cost was “tremendously expensive.”

James Mattis was Secretary of Defense at the time the extraordinarily high estimate came out.  He was questioned about the cost by reporters traveling with him on an official trip to Colombia when the news broke.

“Whoever told you that is smoking something that’s legal in my state — but not in most states,” he responded, referring to the legalization of marijuana in his home state of Washington.

It was soon made clear that the 4th of July dream celebration would not be made into fruition due to it’s high price tag.  Trump stayed hopeful in a tweet saying, “Maybe we will do something next year in D.C. when the cost comes WAY DOWN.”

So now that the time has come, what can we expect from Trump’s “Salute to America”? The Pentagon and the Administration will not disclose cost estimates so it is unclear what exactly we should be expecting.

According to the Department of the Interior, those in attendance can at least expect to see the Old Guard Fife, Drum Corps, the U.S. Army Band (“Pershing’s own”), the Armed Forces, and the United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Team.  He noted that there will be “music, military demonstrations, fly overs and much more.”

Additionally, this year’s fireworks display will go down as the largest ever in D.C. history. It’s said to cost approximately 10 times as much as the typical display. This is in part because of Phantom Fireworks and Grucci pyrotechnics companies that joined together and donated $750,000 worth of fireworks that of which would retail for over $1 million dollars.

President Trump tweeted,

“The cost of our great Salute to America tomorrow will be very little compared to what it is worth. We own the planes, we have the pilots, the airport is right next door (Andrews), all we need is the fuel. We own the tanks and all. Fireworks are donated by two of the greats. Nice!”

We can also expect to see military tanks and flyover appearances by the Navy’s Blue Angels, the new Marine One helicopter and a plane previously flown as Air Force One.

Maj. Chris Mitchell, a Pentagon spokesman, said that two M1A2 Abrams tanks and two M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles “may be displayed through out the event.” Although it is controversial, it is not unusual to see military tank displays. Both Kennedy and Eisenhower’s inaugural parades featured tanks.

Previous presidents generally avoided being the center of attention during 4th of July events. There was always some concern that it would politicize the day, which is coincidentally how Trump’s motives are being viewed.

An article by Times Magazine talked about Richard Nixon’s taped address at the Lincoln Memorial (where Trump is set to give his speech) on July 4, 1970 and how it was “overshadowed” by anti-Vietnam protesters. As a part of the protest, National Mall’s Reflecting Pool was quickly engulfed by a sea of people holding their fists high in the air in opposition of the war.

Congressional Democrats disagree with Trump’s decision to headline this year’s celebration.  The House Majority Leader, Sony Hoyer, told NBC News,

“it’s sad that the president’s turning it into — in my opinion and the opinion of many — a political rally.”

Rep. Gerald E. Connolly of Virginia told the New York Times, “He can’t resist injecting partisan politics into the most nonpartisan sacred American holiday there is: the Fourth of July.”
Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Tom Udall of New Mexico and Patrick Leahy of Vermont vocalized their objection to the President’s choice to appear in a letter to Interior Secretary, David Bernhardt:

“We are deeply troubled that the president’s involvement at the event will turn the long-standing, nonpartisan celebration into a de facto campaign rally conducted at taxpayer expense that will serve to further divide rather than unify the nation,” 

“We are also concerned that the decision to expand the event to include a potential Presidential address will require the National Park Service to divert resources from other priorities of the Mall or other national Park system units at a time when it is facing significant budgetary pressures to address its $12 billion deferred maintenance backlog and accommodate record-setting visitation.”

Despite the negative reactions, former assistant secretary of state for President George W. Bush, Robert Charles, had this to say in a Fox News article,

“Bottom line: The meaning of America’s Fourth of July is to remember our nation’s origins, national love of freedom, willingness to defend it long ago, and support for those who do now. We do this by remembering sacrifice, freedom and a proud history embodied in the American flag and in other symbols of resolve – some of which are civilian, others military. Our Independence Day is not – and never will be – May Day in North Korea, Cuba or the former Soviet Union. It is not Peoples Liberation Army Day in China. The military displays in those countries are not about celebrating freedom or about defending it, but about illegitimate power, internal oppression and crushing of dissent. That is not America.”

At the core of it all, our country stands for liberty and freedom and fights for justice in a way that only the United States can. We may not always agree and we don’t have to always agree. That’s what makes America, America. That in and of itself is something to celebrate. As a reminder of what our nation was built on, I’ll leave you with this quote from our founding fathers and a Happy Birthday to the greatest country in the world… the United States of America.


“We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.” — Declaration of Independence


Sources:

https://time.com/5619191/donald-trumSoup-july-4-speech-controversy/

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/robert-charles-trumps-salute-to-america-is-great-way-to-celebrate-independence-day

Author: 777 Media Source

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