President Trump delivered remarks at the 2019 Fourth of July celebration at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. He was joined by first lady Melania Trump, Vice President Pence and second lady Karen Pence. President Trump recounted many Americans in history, including founding fathers, inventors, and military heroes. He talked about the strength of the U.S. military and presided over fly-overs from planes and helicopters of the five military branches.
With jets roaring overhead and a poncho-clad crowd before him, President Donald Trump implored Americans to come together Thursday in a show of national pride — a rare unifying message from a deeply divisive President that came after days of controversy and criticism over his precedent-shattering military spectacle on the National Mall.
“We must go forward as a nation with that same unity of purpose,” President Trump said, filmed through rain-streaked bulletproof glass as showers beat steadily on his audience. “As long as we stay true to our course, as long as we remember our great history, as long as we never, ever stop fighting for a better future, then there will be nothing that America cannot do.”
After a flyover from the plane that normally serves as Air Force One, President Trump delivered 20 minutes of remarks that were an homage to the nation’s early history and its military. But he also spoke about more recent advancements in civil rights and gender equality. And he looked ahead, declaring the American flag would soon be planted on Mars.
Ahead of his speech, President Trump’s skeptics wondered if the notoriously unpredictable President would remain apolitical. And White House aides scrambled to distribute tickets, worrying about President Trump’s reaction if the crowd appeared thin.
But by Thursday evening, a soggy mass of onlookers — many wearing red “Make America Great Again” hats — had assembled near the Lincoln Memorial to hear the President deliver what was ultimately a message of national pride.
“As we gather this evening in the joy of freedom, we remember that we all share a truly extraordinary heritage,” President Trump said in remarks that did not veer off-script. “Together, we are part of one of the greatest stories ever told — the story of America.”
In a crowd-pleasing closer, President Trump hailed each branch of the military as aircraft from their fleets — — including a B-2 stealth bomber and the Blue Angels — sailed overhead, causing Washington’s buildings to shake and rumble. Bands heralded the individual branches with their official march songs. M1 Abrams tanks transported by heavy rail sat on display.
President Trump’s plans were a sharp change from how the holiday has been marked in the nation’s capital by previous presidents from either party.
The spectacle was likely to delight many Americans who view the military as one remaining unifying force for pride in a country divided along political, racial and economic lines. But it’s also drawn skepticism and criticism for its costs and political hue.
There were to be about 750 to 800 military personnel taking part in the celebration, a defense official told CNN. That didn’t include the 900 hundred members of the DC National Guard who were activated to provide traffic control and security on the streets and in the subway system.