President Trump addressed supporters from the Lincoln Memorial on Thursday from behind a rain-dappled security screen. The spectators faced a downpour in the afternoon before the President appeared, and the area was under a flash flood watch.
Trump’s “Salute to America” stoked controversy, as Democrats accused him of tainting a national holiday with partisan politics. The D.C. City Council voiced its objections to bringing tanks on city streets, noting the potential damage to infrastructure.
“For Americans, nothing is impossible,” Trump proclaimed, as he touted achievements including electricity, Westerns, R&B and the moon landing and predicted that the American flag would also be planted on Mars one day.
The National Park Service was compelled to divert $2.5 million in fees to help pay for the event, which was expected to cost significantly more than that, according to the Washington Post.
The event featured a flyover from the Blue Angels, as well as performances from the Army Band and the Marine Corps Silent Drill Team. The event ran alongside D.C.’s traditional Fourth of July celebration, which includes a concert on the West Lawn of the Capitol and a fireworks display.
Protesters flew a giant Baby Trump balloon, burned an American flag, dressed as Abraham Lincoln, and demonstrated their opposition to the President’s policies with a variety of signs.
Though the event is open to the public, the area around the Lincoln Memorial was cordoned off for VIP access, with the tickets given out to political donors, Republican staffers and other supporters.
Trump promoted the event all week, promising there would be tanks on display.
“The Pentagon & our great Military Leaders are thrilled to be doing this & showing to the American people, among other things, the strongest and most advanced Military anywhere in the World,” he said in a tweet on Tuesday. “Incredible Flyovers & biggest ever Fireworks!”
Trump originally intended to hold a military parade for Veterans Day last year, but plans were scuttled when the price escalated. The president has been taken with the idea of a military display since attending Bastille Day celebrations in Paris in 2017.