It was meant to be Donald Trump’s fantasy July 4 – but the weather had other ideas. Hatch’s Lachlan Keller and Genet Berhane wrap up the occasion.
As a rain-soaked July 4 crowd stood at Washington’s hallowed Lincoln Memorial and belted out The Star Spangled Banner, President Donald Trump himself might have taken the national anthem’s words too literally.
Inspired by the Bastille Day celebrations during his Paris visit in 2017, the president was a man on mission who thought nothing short of tanks and military aircraft would do justice to his vision of Independence Day celebrations, being the first president since Harry Truman to address the nation from the memorial on the public holiday.
Unlike Truman’s address, however, Mr Trump’s 30-minute speech focused mainly on military history rather than the progress the nation had made since the signing of the Declaration of Independence 243 years ago.
Each branch of the military was addressed directly, with a history of its achievements, including a military aircraft fly-over, while the branch’s corresponding anthem was played by a live band.
Such was the success of the revolutionary army, he claimed, that they were able to capture enemy airports in 1776.
— Terri2uus 🇺🇸🇩🇪🇮🇹 (@terri2uus) July 4, 2019
Mr Trump – who famously avoided the Vietnam War due to claimed “bone spurs” – also took the opportunity to appeal to citizens to join the military, to declare that ISIS was “100 per cent” defeated, and t0 predict that the US would be back on the moon by the end of 2020.
Military reporting inconsistencies started during the planning stages of the event, with the president claiming that “brand new Sherman tanks” had been made for the event, despite the fact the Sherman tank had been out of production since World War 2.
— Breaking Burgh (@BreakingBurgh) July 1, 2019
Mr Trump’s initial plans had to be changed at the last minute over concerns of potential damage to local infrastructure. In the end, the highly publicized tanks were today for display purposes only.
— Council of DC (@councilofdc) July 1, 2019
All of this military equipment came at a cost, with $2.5 million of the budget for the event being taken from the already struggling national parks department. Discontent about the cost of the event for such a contentious cause was discussed widely.
Sen. Bernie Sanders on #TrumpParade: “I think we need money to go into affordable housing. I think we need money to go into rebuilding our infrastructure. I’m not quite sure that we need money to go into put tanks in downtown Washington, DC, frankly.” pic.twitter.com/eZv2HDIJmM
— The Hill (@thehill) July 4, 2019
Despite the show of military might, much of the conversation on social media was focused around how the event was broadcasted, with the usual debate about crowd sizes raging – there had been predictions this might be “Inauguaration 2.0”, a reference to the notorious debate over crowd size that consumed the opening days of the Trump presidency. Observers on both sides of the political spectrum accused the other of photoshopping the crowd to prove their respective points about Trump’s popularity. The fact that public access cameras – which would have fully displayed the crowd – were temporarily unavailable also raised eyebrows.
But nothing about the day garnered as much response as the footage of Mr Trump’s address itself: the president, speaking from behind rain-drenched bullet-proof glass, distracted some viewers from the message.
— Cynthia Gaffney (@cgaf99) July 4, 2019