Trump's Independence Day extravaganza
Donald Trump praised the “brave men and women” of the US military during his a controversial Independence Day event in Washington DC. The “Salute to America” occasion, which featured military flyovers and fireworks, divided America. The Week in the article Unifying or waste of money? Trump’s Fourth of July event divides US quotes Trump as saying: “Together we are part of one of the greatest stories ever told, the story of America. It is the chronicle of brave citizens who never give up on the dream of a better and brighter future.” He continued: “As long as we never stop fighting for a better future... there will be nothing that America cannot do.”
CNN said the US President’s speech, delivered from the Lincoln Memorial in front of a “soggy mass of onlookers”, saw him offer a “rare unifying message”.
The Guardian also noted Trump’s “rare plea for unity” but described the overall event as “symbolic, jingoistic and untraditional,” adding: “Whereas he once liked to build suspense as host of the reality TV show The Apprentice, Trump now has the world’s most fearsome arsenal at his disposal – and he showed it off.”
Sky News noted that “a well behaved Trump stuck to the script which was essentially a military history lesson”.
The Pentagon has not disclosed the cost of the event, but some reports say the National Park Service diverted nearly $2.5m (£2m) to cover the cost. Trump had said ahead of the event that the expense “will be very little compared to what it is worth”.
Democrats were not impressed. Senator Bernie Sanders wrote on Twitter: “This is what authoritarians do: Donald Trump is taking $2.5 million away from our National Park Service to glorify himself with a spectacle of military tanks rolling through Washington.”
Joe Biden, the former vice president and another 2020 hopeful, said Trump’s spectacle in Washington “misses the point”.
The Rev William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, criticised the president on Twitter, writing: “He thinks this is the sign of strength, but it’s a damn narcissistic travesty.”
“Donald Trump is redefining the presidency and the commitment to freedom and liberty,” said Andrea Stanford of the Women 4 Trump group, who wore red, white and blue underwear to the event.
Two people were arrested after an American flag was burned on Pennsylvania Avenue, just in front of the White House. Separately, Code Pink, an anti-war protest group that flew the Trump baby blimp that flew over London during Trump's state visit, said: “We think that he’s a big baby.”