Trump speaks at controversial July 4th event
Attendees cheer as Blue Angel fighter jets fly overheard during a Fourth of July celebration event at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, USA, July 4, 2019. EFE-EPA/AL DRAGO/POOL
US President Donald J. Trump speaks during US Independence Day celebrations at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, USA, July 4, 2019. EFE-EPA/ERIK S. LESSER
US President Donald J. Trump (C) speaks during US Independence Day celebrations at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, USA, July 4, 2019. EFE-EPA/ERIK S. LESSER
US President Donald Trump (L) and First Lady Melania Trump (R) leave a Fourth of July celebration event in Washington, DC, USA, July 4, 2019. EFE-EPA/AL DRAGO/POOL
US President Donald J. Trump (C), flanked by First Lady Melania Trump (C, right) and members of his administration, attend a Fourth of July celebration event in Washington, DC, USA, July 4,2019. EFE-EPA/AL DRAGO/POOL
People watch military aircraft perform a flyover during Independence Day celebrations, in Arlington, Virginia, USA, July 4, 2019. EFE-EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS
US Army soldiers work on an armored Bradley Fighting Vehicle on display in front of the Lincoln Memorial for Independence Day celebrations on the National Mall in Washington, DC, on July 4, 2019. EFE/EPA/ERIK S. LESSER
Washington, Jul 4 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump in a July 4th address on the National Mall in Washington commemorated the "extraordinary heritage" of the United States at a controversial event marked by the presence of tanks and military aircraft.
"As we gather this evening, in the joy of freedom, we remember that all share a truly extraordinary heritage. Together we are part of one of the greatest stories ever told, the story of America," he told the crowd standing before the Lincoln Memorial at one end of the National Mall.
"Today, we come together as one nation with this very special salute to America," he said.
In his address at what the administration dubbed the "Salute to America" celebration, the president said that "We all share the same home, the same heart, and we are all made by the same almighty God."
The president delivered his remarks before a group of VIPs - specifically big GOP donors and the relatives of active duty US military personnel and veterans - invited by the White House, which passed out tickets to specially selected guests to seat them in the front rows of the temporary bleachers erected in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
The heavy security provided by the US Secret Service and metal barriers installed around the emblematic monument to America's most popular president were criticized by thousands of people on the social networks, where they noted that up until this year it had been possible for the public to sit on the Memorial's steps during previous July 4th celebrations to watch the evening fireworks display.
Just like every year, thousands of families gathered on the National Mall during the day dressed in all sorts of outfits with the red, white and blue national colors, despite the intermittent rain that kept many more people away from the area, according to local media.
There were many different political opinions evident among the crowd, with many Trump supporters sporting red "Make America Great Again" baseball caps, while others wore t-shirts with the statement "Not my president" or similar sentiments.
However, the big attraction for anti-Trumpers was the presence of the huge "Baby Trump" balloon representing the president as a squawling baby in a diaper, a balloon made famous in the protests against Trump last year in London.
In his speech, Trump promised that astronauts would go to the Moon in the near future and even plant the US flag on Mars, although he offered no further details, seconds after stating that "nothing is impossible" for Americans, a remarks that sparked hearty applause from the crowd.
During his address, Trump praised aerospace engineer Gene Kranz, who was present at the event and was in charge of the NASA mission to land on the Moon in 1969.
This is not the first time that Trump and/or Vice President Mike Pence have promised to return US astronauts to the Moon, and the NASA budget for fiscal year 2019 includes funds to get that project under way, although no timetable for missions of that kind have been established.
In his remarks, the president also spent time praising the achievements of each branch of the US military,
He started with the US Coast Guard and upon concluding his brief remarks about each service, aircraft from that branch did a flyover over the city.
The presidential 747 jet, Air Force One, also did a flyover of the area.
"And it is our incredible airman today who wield the most powerful weapon systems on the planet Earth. For over 65 years no enemy air force has managed to kill a single American soldier because the skies belong to the United States of America," Trump said of the Air Force.
About the Marines, Trump said: "That motto, Semper Fidelis - always faithful - burns in the soul of every marine, a sacred promise, the core has kept since the birth of our country. They are the elite masters of air, and land and sea, on battlefields all across the globe."
In recent days, there has been much criticism of Trump's plans to put on what he touted as the "show of a lifetime," with opponents of the July 4th event using military personnel and equipment raising concerns about the cost to taxpayers, the apparent politicization of what has traditionally been a non-partisan celebration and what many claim is the use of the military as a political prop.