In the shadow of the monuments and looming storms, crowds streamed into D.C. for Fourth of July celebrations. Some came to hear President Donald Trump's speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, some came to see the fireworks show, and some came to join several protests along the National Mall.
In the shadow of the monuments and looming storms, crowds streamed into D.C. for Fourth of July celebrations.
Some came to hear President Donald Trump’s speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, some came to see the fireworks show and some came to join several protests along the National Mall.
Trump salutes America
Trump tweeted that the weather was “looking good,” before heading toward the Lincoln Memorial to deliver a speech for the “Salute to America” portion of the festivities. Trump spoke as it rained on and off. His address started on time, around 6:30 p.m.
His speech was largely apolitical; he did not segue into his political agenda or his re-election campaign. Instead he focused on achievements of Americans throughout history.
He pointed to special guests and historical figures from U.S. history who have contributed to the story of the country. These included an official from NASA who was involved in the moon landing, a woman who provided hundreds of meals to victims of Hurricane Michael and a nun who helped victims of the 9/11 attacks.
Trump touched upon moments and people in U.S. history, including Frederick Douglass, Betsy Ross, Martin Luther King Jr. and women’s suffrage.
Among the special guests who were in the ticketed VIP section were Gold Star families, relatives of U.S. military members who have died in battle.
Trump’s speech enumerated the branches of the military, punctuated by a show of military vehicles and the traditional songs of each branch.
The speech ended with the singing of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” a flyover by the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels and a rendition of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.”
There were concerns that Trump’s address would be like one of his political rallies, especially when it became known there would be a ticketed section at the Lincoln Memorial.
Trump set aside a historic piece of real estate — a stretch of the Mall from the Lincoln Memorial to the midpoint of the reflecting pool — for a mix of invited military members, Republican and Trump campaign donors, and other bigwigs, The Associated Press reported.
Those tickets came at no cost, but the White House did not say specifically how they were allocated.
Local officials expressed concern over the cost of the celebrations and what the heavy military vehicles the president requested would do to D.C. area road infrastructures.
Susan Foulds, of D.C., said that it’s depressing how the July Fourth celebrations in D.C. have been co-opted. “So many people showing up to this Republican political rally on a day that’s meant for all Americans,” she said.
People got a temporary reprieve from the sweltering heat enough to take out their umbrellas, as the region got pelted by heavy rain just around 3 p.m., sending some attendees to take cover under umbrellas, trees, tents or even under a raised platform.
The threat of thunderstorms affected a group of protesters, as well. An inflatable “Baby Trump” balloon figure had to be deflated as the rain moved in at the National Mall.
Among the changes in this year’s July Fourth celebration was the launch site of the fireworks display. This year they were launched at West Potomac Park. They had been launched from a location along the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool for the last several years.
The stunning display started off with fireworks that hung in the air like slow-falling glitter and some that spelled out U-S-A, WTOP’s Michelle Basch reported form the National Mall. But the explosions left so much smoke in the air that they became hard to see.
“It looked like a colorful thunderstorm,” Basch said.