July 05, 2019

Donald Trump hails Americas military might in July 4 speech amid pomp and flyovers
Donald Trump delivered a patriotic message during his celebration of America’s Independence Day, accompanied by a full display of the country's military might.  The US president hailed an eclectic mix of the country's heroes, from the armed forces to its pioneers in space as well as civil rights activists.  He largely stuck to his script, delivered from a teleprompter in a rainy Washington DC, steering clear of political rhetoric promoting his re-election campaign. Attendees were treated to flyovers by Coast Guard helicopters, Air Force F-22 fighters, Marine V-22 Osprey helicopters and other military aircraft. As the fighter jets flew overhead, Mr Trump praised America's military prowess and urged young people to join the armed forces. First Lady Melania Trump and US President Donald Trump look on during the "Salute to America" Fourth of July event Credit: AFP With well-planned choreography, the president told stories about each branch of the US military as he introduced separate fly-overs of military aircraft. "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," he said. Mr Trump was the first president in nearly seven decades to address a crowd at the National Mall on July 4, usually regarded as a non-political day of celebration. With tanks positioned in prominent locations in the nation's capital at Mr Trump's request and flanked by Bradley fighting vehicles, he told crowds "our nation is stronger than it ever was before" as he spoke outside the memorial to former US president Abraham Lincoln. "That same American spirit that emboldened our founders has kept us strong throughout our history. To this day that spirit runs through the veins of every American patriot," he said. "It lives on in each and every one of you here today. It is the spirit, daring and defiance, excellence and adventure, courage and confidence, loyalty and love that built this country into the most exceptional nation in the history of the world, and our nation is stronger today than it ever was before. It is its strongest now." The Blue Angels (six F-18s) fly overhead as people gather on the National Mall for the "Salute to America" Fourth of July event Credit: AFP He went on to say that "for Americans, nothing is impossible", reciting a litany of American accomplishments over its history, including the Apollo 11 moon landing 50 years ago. He promised that "very soon, we will plant the American flag on Mars." In a nod to the historical nature of his address, in the same location that Martin Luther King gave his "I have a dream" speech, Mr Trump paid tribute to several civil rights heroes. He cited as great Americans both Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, African-Americans who campaigned for the abolition of slavery. The event, dubbed a “Salute to America”, has been criticised for its military overtones but several thousand braved the forecasted thunderstorms to attend. At times, the enthusiastic crowd could be heard chanting: "USA! USA! USA!" "I think what Trump's doing with the tanks, all the flyovers, I think it's great," said Brandon Lawrence, his face painted with the colours of the American flag. The US president has publicly spoken of how impressed he was by the Bastille Day military parade he witnessed during a visit to Paris in July 2017 and has been attempting to create something similar.  President Donald Trump speaks during an Independence Day celebration in front of the Lincoln Memorial  Credit: AP Democratic presidential candidates were quick to weigh in with criticism. Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted: "This is what authoritarians do: @realDonaldTrump is taking $2.5 million away from our National Park Service to glorify himself with a spectacle of military tanks rolling through Washington". Former Vice President Joe Biden, who was at a campaign event in Iowa, said the spectacle in Washington "misses the point." "I wonder what Donald Trump will say this evening, when he speaks to the nation at an event designed more to stroke his ego than celebrate American ideals," he said. The White House has dismissed the claims, saying the president was simply "going to celebrate the greatest country, the greatest idea in the history of the world - the United States of America.” However the uplifting message was not shared by all. Protesters also gathered on the Mall in the nation's capital to voice their opposition to the Trump administration.  A child waves flags as people take photos while U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive for the "Salute to America" event  Credit: Reuters One anti-war group, Code Pink, secured a permit to bring a “Baby Trump” blimp, reflecting a similar protest in the UK, to a rival event in the Mall during his speech. "This is costing us millions and millions of dollars. We the taxpayers are paying for it, for Donald Trump to use our military as a prop. And that's just not right," said Code Pink co-director Medea Benjamin. Meanwhile two people were arrested after an American flag was burned on Pennsylvania Avenue, just in front of the White House leading to a violent clash between protesters.    Led by activist Joey Johnson, a group called the Revolution Club had earlier announced its intention to set a flag alight. “I’m going to be speaking to the people of the world letting them know that there are people inside the borders of this country who stand with the people of the world," Mr Johnson said in the press release. The fire led to a scuffle with a far-right group, the Proud Boys, but quickly put out by the US Secret Service. The agency said two people were arrested during the incident, one person for a felony assault on a police officer and malicious burning. The other was arrested for hindering a police investigation and resisting arrest. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.



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