Donald Trump called on Americans to “stay true to our cause” and declared that “the future of American freedom rests on the shoulders of men and women willing to defend it,” during his “Salute to America” Fourth of July speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial on Thursday.
Trump’s remarks, which focused on America’s military history and included sections highlighting each of the branches — even the “Space Force” — lasted a little less than an hour amid strong rain falling in Washington DC.., with his podium protected from the elements by bulletproof glass.
Earlier, the National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for parts of D.C., Maryland and Virginia ahead of the event.
“Hello America, hello,” Trump said after he was introduced with First Lady Melania Trump, and after the Boeing 747 that acts as Air Force One when the President is aboard did the first of several military flyovers above the National Mall.
Trump said the country was “stronger today than it ever was before” in the early stages of a speech that took the route of a quasi history lesson, telling the story of Independence Day, praising the creation 243 years ago of “the most just and virtuous republic ever conceived.”
“On this day 243 years ago our Founding Fathers pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sovereign honor to … defend our God-given rights.”
Trump stuck to the script, praising firefighters and law enforcement — including ICE and police– and paid tribute to the family members of military personnel who “made the supreme sacrifice – thank you.” There were no political jabs that some critics were concerned would serve to politicize a normally non-partisan event.
He also touched on the Revolutionary War, the Civil Rights movement, the moon landing and the service of law enforcement and the armed forces.
He said that “for Americans, nothing is impossible.” He went on to cite a string of American accomplishments, including the moon landing 50 years ago, promising, “Very soon, we will plant the American flag on Mars.”
The speech ended at about 7:25 PM ET, with a flyover by the Navy’s Blue Angels.
Earlier, a group in front of the White House burned an American flag in protest of the event and scuffled briefly with pro-Trump protesters. Meanwhile, the Trump Baby balloon as promised made an appearance in the shadow of the Washington Monument.