Trump’s Independence Day Extravaganza. A Postscript (UPDATED)
Those who missed Trump’s 2019 Independence Day extravaganza, or who would like a do-over of this stirring event, can rest easier.
They’ll get another chance to relish it in 2020, 2021 and many, many more Fourth of Julys.
“Based on its tremendous success,” Trump says he has “made the decision to do it again next year and maybe we can say for the foreseeable future.”
Trump’s Independence Day event was well choreographed – a made for television event.
The speech written for Trump by others was not bad.
The script was a decent recital of American history, highlighting our military successes and prowess.
It was received quite well by the audience at the Lincoln Memorial – just look at all the “(applause)” and the “AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!” inserts in the White House’s version of the speech.
The celebrant-in-chief was quite good at reading the words on the teleprompter and he should not be ridiculed too much for claiming our Continental Army “rammed the ramparts [and] took over the airports.”
To the White House website manager’s credit, the “airports” gaffe has not yet been edited out.
As a former “flyboy,” of course I enjoyed the flyovers and admired the pilots of those magnificent flying machines, but I did not think the “brand new” Sherman and Abrams tanks were called for. We will not mention the cost.
It is disappointing, however, and so indicative of our subterranean-low expectations of Trump, that the greatest accolades given to this man have been for not – as widely expected — turning our national celebration into a partisan free-for-all, a mudslinging fest, an “it’s all about me” show, a re-election campaign rally.
On a more personal note, despite all the references to our “unalienable Rights…among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,” and despite all the chronicling of our epic battles and acknowledgement of the heroism of our men and women in every military service, I felt something was missing.
Perhaps it was Trump’s failure to mention even once that we are a nation of immigrants; that millions of immigrants have served our nation in all its wars – many even before their naturalization – and that thousands of them have given their life for their adopted country.
Perhaps it was because Trump quoted several almost-sacred documents and speeches: What Trump called that “single sheet of parchment,” the Declaration of Independence, and men and women like John Adams, John Paul Jones, Betsy Rose, Douglas MacArthur, Martin Luther King, yet never mentioned Emma Lazarus or the immortal lines inscribed at the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”
I found it strange that in all his mentions of our heroes, our Navy, the Mekong Delta, “the elephant grass of Vietnam,” there was nary a mention of our Prisoners of War or of the most famous of them all, John McCain. Nevertheless, a number of people wore “USS JOHN McCAIN” t-shirts (below), reminding Trump of the American hero and Senator he disgustingly reviled both in life and in death.
I felt uncomfortable when Trump welcomed Gold Star families, recalling how he had belittled the Gold Star parents of a Muslim U.S. Army captain who made the supreme sacrifice in Iraq.
It felt awkward to watch the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other military leaders politely applaud a man who calls them “his generals” and who professes to know more than they do.
It felt, let’s say, inconsistent to hear Trump rightly commend Tina Belcher for her three-decades-long generosity towards hurricane victims in Florida while his own response to Puerto Rico’s disaster during and following Hurricane Maria, where nearly 3,000 of our fellow citizens died, has been called “a stain on his presidency.”
Perhaps the quote, “that all men are created equal,” would have rang truer and would have lingered a little longer with us, had Trump not – the very next day – called the federal border detention facilities used to hold migrants who enter the U.S. illegally, “beautifully run,” after his own government’s report described them as “a ticking time bomb.”
Finally, I thought it was not very convincing for a man who dodged military service because he “was not a fan of that [Vietnam] war” to exhort young Americans to “make a truly great statement in life” by joining the military.
It was “not a bad speech,” but one that would have been so much better if given by someone else.