Donald Trump speaking during the 2020 “Salute to America” event in honor of Independence Day on the South Lawn of the White House today.AFP via Getty Images
President Trump took the stage Saturday for a second night to celebrate America’s birthday and praise first responders, the military and the country’s prospects.
“Our country is in great shape,” the president told an audience filled with soldiers and medical workers on the South Lawn of the White House.
“Our military has never been stronger,” he said, promising, “Next year will be one of the greatest years we ever had.”
As for the coronavirus pandemic, Trump predicted the U.S. will “likely have a therapeutic or vaccine long before the end of the year.”
Much as he did in his Mount Rushmore speech Friday night, the president extolled the nation’s Founding Fathers in the face of the anti-cop unrest and statue desecrations prompted by the police killing of George Floyd — describing protesters as “angry mob[s].”
“The patriots who built our countries were not villains; they were heroes whose courageous deeds improved the Earth beyond measure,” Trump said as squadrons of US military aircraft roared overhead.
“If you believe in justice, if you believe in freedom, if you believe in peace, then you must cherish the principles of our founding,” he added.
Trump went on to attack the media “who falsely and consistently label their opponents ‘racist.’”
“We want a clear and faithful defense of American history,” the president added, accusing journalists of “slander.”
“When you level these false charges, you not only slander me; you not only slander the American people, but you slander generations of heroes who gave their lives for America,” Trump said.
The US Air Force Thunderbirds and the US Navy Blue Angels made a long-range flyover of cities that played a role in the American Revolution — from Boston and New York to Philadelphia and Baltimore — as part of the federal government’s “Salute to America” program before they appeared over the nation’s capital.
A 35-minute fireworks show of more than 10,000 rockets and sparklers followed as darkness fell.
The US Department of the Interior promised to have 300,000 face masks on hand to distribute to viewers in an around the National Mall to prevent the spread of coronavirus — after DC Mayor Muriel Bowser critiqued the party plans.
Trump said the US has “made a lot of progress” fighting the coronavirus even as daily cases increases to levels never before seen in the country.
“We’ve made a lot of progress. Our strategy is moving along well … We have the finest testing in the world,” Trump said.
“With respect to remedies, we are now doing unbelievably well,” he added.
Trump launched the Independence Day festivities by setting off his own rhetorical incendiaries Friday night at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, with a speech torching what he called a “left-wing cultural revolution” taking aim at America’s historical figures.
“We will not throw away our heroes. We will honor them and we will prove worthy of their sacrifice,” he said Saturday.