Washington: US President Donald Trump marked Independence Day by speaking at his ‘Salute to America’ celebrations at the Lincoln Memorial on Thursday.
Trump’s speech steered clear of political issues and had a strong patriotic tone. Military flyovers and music featured during the speech. Armored vehicles were part of a “static display” at the event introduced by Trump this year, according to CNN.
“Today, we come together as one nation with this very special Salute to America. We celebrate our history, our people, and the heroes who proudly defend our flag – the brave men and women of the United States Military!” Trump told the gathered crowd.
“Today, just as it did 243 years ago, the future of American Freedom rests on the shoulders of men and women willing to defend it,” the US President said, encouraging people to join the military.
“As long as we stay true to our cause – as long as we remember our great history – and as long as we never stop fighting for a better future – then there will be nothing that America cannot do,” he also stated.
This event was slammed by Democratic Presidential hopefuls, with Bernie Sanders questioning the need for diverting funds for the celebrations.
“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,” he said.
“Reducing our nation to tanks and shows of muscle just makes us look like the kind of loudmouth guy at the bar instead of the extremely diverse and energetic nation that we are,” Mayor Pete Buttigieg told CNN in Iowa.
The Trump baby blimp made an appearance, as protesters took to the streets outside the White House before Trump departed for the Lincoln Memorial event. Two protesters were arrested for burning the US flag outside the President’s official residence by the Secret Services.
Operations at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport were suspended for the military flyovers and the fireworks, impacting nearly 100 flights, according to CNN.
The National Park Service redirected nearly USD 2.5 million to fund part of Trump’s July 4 celebrations.
Trump was accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump at the celebrations. Vice President Mike Pence, along with his wife Karen Pence, Acting Defence Secretary Mark T Esper, US Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Lighthizer were amongst the high-profile US officials present at the do. US Military leaders like General Joseph Dunford Jr, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Matthew Donovan, acting secretary of the Air Force were also in attendance.