WASHINGTON — As Donald Trump supporters and opponents confronted each other during a hot and rainy Fourth of July, Trump himself stressed holiday themes and paid tribute to the military during a speech that avoided politics – for the most part.
“Our nation is stronger today than it ever was before,” Trump said at one point in his speech at the Lincoln Memorial, echoing a claim he has made often on the campaign trail.
“As long as we stay true to our cause, as long as we remember our great history and as long as we never stop fighting for a better future, then there will be nothing that America cannot do,” Trump said during his “Salute to America” event.
Earlier in the day, Trump supporters and protesters gathered in Washington from Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House to the expanse of National Mall. No major violence was reported, though at least one scuffle broke out at a flag burning in front of the White House.
While telling the story of George Washington and other revolutionaries who defeated the British more than two centuries ago, Trump also singled out each branch of the modern U.S. military, including his proposed “Space Force.”
He also discussed U.S. accomplishments, from Alexander Graham Bell and the telephone to the Wright Brothers and the airplane. He introduced a number of invited guests, from an engineer on the first moon landing in 1969 to gold star families who lost loved ones in battle.
The setting reflected the program’s military theme, as tanks were deployed on the grounds of the Lincoln Memorial. Air Force One flew overhead as the president and first lady Melania Trump ascended the makeshift stage in front of the memorial.
At different points, Trump paused in his speech to allow flyovers of various pieces of equipment, from Coast Guard choppers to a B-2 stealth bomber.