The Fourth of July celebration in Washington D.C. was a bit different this year, with President Donald Trump’s “Salute to America” at the Lincoln Memorial, featuring a 45-minute speech by the president, several musical performances, fireworks, tanks, and flyovers by Air Force One and a variety of military aircraft.
The Fourth of July in the U.S. capital doesn’t usually include such a prominent military presence, and the event is estimated to cost millions, including $2.5 million redirected from the National Park Service, though the White House has yet to release the full cost of the event to the public. Trump was the first president to make a speech on the Independence Day holiday in 70 years.
While the event was impacted by rain, thunder, and lightning throughout the day and into the night, several thousand attendees remained, garbed in water ponchos and holding umbrellas above their heads to keep the inclement weather at bay as they listened to the president speak.
“Today we come together as one nation with this very special salute to America,” Trump said. “We celebrate our history, our people and the heroes who proudly defend our flag. The brave men and women of the United States Military. The Army, Navy, Airforce, Coastguard, Marines, and very soon the Space Force.”
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) July 4, 2019
Many of the folks in the crowd came bearing red, white, and blue hats embroidered with numerous pro-Trump slogans including the signature “Make America Great Again,” or “Keep America Great.”
While the inclusion of tanks was a source of controversy leading up to the event, most attendees weren’t allowed anywhere near them. Only those with tickets obtained either through the White House, a member of Congress or the Republican National Committee were allowed to sit in front of the Lincoln Memorial where the stage was set up with tanks on either side.
Metropolitan Police directed anyone else hoping to catch the president’s speech to a gated-off section of the mall near the reflection pool in front of the Washington Monument. With a sea of people and umbrellas obstructing the view, the best glimpse of the president most could hope for was on one of three jumbotrons facing the crowd.
At one point protesters drowned out the president’s speech with chants of “Close the camps!” which were met in turn with chants of “You guys suck,” presumably from supporters of Trump.
While the conditions may not have been ideal, most supporters of the president still seemed happy to be there.
“I just love that [Trump] is so patriotic and I feel like we’ve had a feeling in the country that being patriotic or nationalistic is kind of like a closet thing,” Shekinah Hollingsworth, a Trump supporter from Maryland told The Globe Post.
“I love how he’s so open about his nationalism, and that’s something I’ve been looking for in a president for a while. I’m glad that we’re able to come out here and celebrate the country and that’s really what it’s about.”
Hollingsworth said she stayed at the mall for the whole day reserving a spot to witness the celebration and was “soaked” by the rain.
“I didn’t expect it to rain as much as it did,” Hollingsworth said. “We’ve been out here for like six hours now though, so I figure why not just stick it out until the president speaks?”