Trump delivers July 4 speech saluting the US military and free of political statements – Washington Examiner

President Trump appeared to stick the script and delivered a Fourth of July speech saluting the five branches of the U.S. military.

The decision to hold this “Salute to America,” which included flyovers from military planes and the presence of tanks of the National Mall, drew considerable controversy in the days leading up to it, including concerns about the militarization of the holiday and the cost. An estimated $2.5 million was spent by the National Park Service to fund Trump’s event.

Still, when it came to the speech itself, Trump sidestepped saying anything overtly controversial.

“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 said Thursday evening.

The speech focused on the military with separate sections devoted to the Coast Guard, the Navy, the Army, the Air Force, and the Marines Corps, with flyovers for each one. Trump avoided any digression and rarely made any personal comments.

Trump’s remarks included nods to the civil rights movement, suffragists, and abolitionists as well, as part of an effort to present an inclusive message. “As we gather this evening in the joy of freedom, we remember that we all share a truly extraordinary heritage. Together, we are part of one of the greatest stories ever told — the story of America,” he said.

Trump mentioned Betsy Ross and “the great” Civil War-era abolitionist and orator Frederick Douglass by name, although he did not touch on the controversy with Nike deciding to stop selling sneakers featuring a version of the Betsy Ross American flag after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick complained to the company.

Trump additionally touched on space exploration and immigration, offering praise to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol. He also gave thanks to police and first responders.

“Our nation has always honored the heroes who serve our communities, first responders, police, sheriffs, ICE, Border Patrol and all of the brave men and women of law enforcement,” Trump said.

Some of Trump’s critics remained unimpressed with the decision to deliver a speech. Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu, for instance, insisted it was a “partisan” affair.

Trump was able to deliver the speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial despite some notably harsh weather for D.C. in the summer, with heavy rain and lightning at times throughout the day.

“A Capitol Fourth” took place on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol after the speech. The event included a free concert as well as fireworks.

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