Donald Trump likes to go big.
The president wants the National Park Service to work with the military to station tanks and other armored military vehicles on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for his scheduled July Fourth address to the nation.
“The ongoing negotiations over whether to use massive military hardware, such as Abrams tanks or Bradley fighting vehicles, as a prop for Trump’s ‘Salute to America’ is just one of many unfinished details when it comes to the celebration planned for Thursday, according to several people briefed on the plan, who requested anonymity to speak frankly,” the Washington Post reported Monday.
Trump has demonstrated an unusual level of interest in this year’s Independence Day observance, according to three senior administration officials. He has received regular briefings about it from Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, according to the people briefed on the plan, and has weighed in on everything from how the pyrotechnics should be launched to how the military should be honored.
As a result, the administration has organized a far more ambitious celebration than was originally planned, at a yet-to-be specified additional cost to taxpayers. Two major fireworks firms have donated a pyrotechnic show valued at $750,000, for example, but the Park Service will have to pay employees overtime to clean up the remnants of that display. The fireworks have also been moved to a new location in West Potomac Park at Trump’s urging.
Trump has also spurred the use of military aircraft for a flyover, including one of the jetliners used as Air Force One. In addition, the Navy’s Blue Angels were supposed to have a break between a performance in Davenport, Iowa, on June 30 and one in Kansas City, Missouri, on July 6, but will now be flying in Washington on the 4th.
Trump in February promised a big show on July Fourth.
“HOLD THE DATE! We will be having one of the biggest gatherings in the history of Washington, D.C., on July 4th. It will be called ‘A Salute To America’ and will be held at the Lincoln Memorial. Major fireworks display, entertainment and an address by your favorite President, me!” he wrote on Twitter.
HOLD THE DATE! We will be having one of the biggest gatherings in the history of Washington, D.C., on July 4th. It will be called “A Salute To America” and will be held at the Lincoln Memorial. Major fireworks display, entertainment and an address by your favorite President, me!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 24, 2019
The president has also pushed for holding a military parade featuring marching soldiers and high-tech equipment, especially after he visited Paris to witness France’s Bastille Day celebration in 2017. In 2018, he called for a grand Veterans Day parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, but back off after critics complained about costs and potential road damage from military vehicles.
At 6:30 p.m., Trump will take the stage at the Lincoln Memorial for a speech on America, the Washington Examiner reported last week. “Air Force One is also expected to make an appearance, along with other aircraft.”
“Ninety minutes after the speaking ends, as Secrets reported earlier this week, a $1 million fireworks show will begin with displays shown in a semi-circle around the Lincoln Memorial. The show typically costs $270,000, but designer Fireworks by Grucci and Phantom Fireworks are donating an additional $750,000 to add to the show from Garden State Fireworks,” the Examiner reported.