Forget the fact the July 4 celebration has been the one day each year reserved for Americans to put aside their political differences and celebrate the unity of being American.
Donald Trump and his campaign team need some video for his reelection TV ads.
Accordingly, Trump has decided to become the first president in modern memory to place himself in the middle of a traditionally nonpartisan event and address the nation from the Lincoln Memorial on July 4.
Washington didn’t feel the need to do it. Nor did Jefferson. Or Lincoln. Or Roosevelt. Or Reagan.
But Trump has been itching for a celebration he can call his for two years.
Trump’s appearance is likely to bring with it a host of new security and logistical challenges and reshape a decades-old, unity celebration that annually draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city’s monumental core.
And there is no word yet on whether Trump’s decision will spark protests the night of America’s 244th birthday.
Sgt. Eduardo Delgado, a spokesman for the U.S. Park Police, confirmed the agency has been notified that Trump definitely plans to speak at the memorial.
He said the agency was working with the White House to determine how the president’s movements would affect security surrounding the event, and the Park Police was awaiting details from the Secret Service about the timing and duration of the speech.
“It’s still kind of an evolving event,” Delgado said.
Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has opposed Trump’s efforts to take over the July 4 celebration and inject himself into the program, citing security and logistics concerns.
Trump, however, wants to refashion the event as “A Salute to America,” the culmination of two years of attempts to hold a grand patriotic display centered on him and his supporters.
Last month, Bowser said she hoped the president would refrain from divisive rhetoric if he appeared on the Mall on July 4.
“The president can speak at any event that he wants to speak at,” Bowser said in an interview. “And my great hope would be that he recognizes that the event is a unifying event that celebrates the birthday of our nation.”
An overhauled Fourth of July celebration is among the top priorities for new Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.
The Trump administration also plans to move the fireworks display from the usual location on the Mall to West Potomac Park.
Kim Dine, a former assistant D.C. police chief and former chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, said the president’s changes to the celebration complicate what had been a well-choreographed event.
Dine said Trump’s speech from the Lincoln Memorial could restrict the movement of people, depending on the time.
The security needed to protect the president in a public place could make it difficult for people to move or to watch both the speech and the fireworks.
“Managing large crowds is doable, but difficult,” Dine said. “And when you have the added challenge of VIP presence, or POTUS presence, and the massive amount of security that attends to him, that’s adds significantly to the whole equation.”
Trump previously clashed with local D.C. officials over his plans to hold a grand military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue.
He backed off the idea last year as concerns about expenses grew, and claimed without evidence that city officials inflated costs.
Public presidential appearances are still rare in Washington, D.C. because of security reasons.
No president has participated in a Fourth of July celebration on the Mall in recent memory, usually celebrating instead at the White House.
President Ronald Reagan participated in a “Star Spangled Salute to America” at the Jefferson Memorial on July 3, 1987, which showcased an economic announcement, but the regular fireworks celebration happened the next day as usual.
President Harry Truman delivered a speech from the Washington Monument on July 4, 1951 to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence
President Abraham Lincoln delivered a belated “Fourth of July” speech from a second-floor window of the White House on July 7, 1863, according to the National Park Service.
Attribution:The Washington Post