On July 4, President Trump gave a speech as a part of his “Salute to America” event in front of the Lincoln Memorial flanked on both sides by camouflaged Bradley Fighting Vehicles.
Despite fears that he might employ this speech as a glorified campaign rally, he largely presented a speech that was not political and resonated with all Americans.
President Trump remarked on the common themes of American patriotism, underscoring the shared “epic” history of all Americans, the love of freedom, and the importance of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and our Founding Fathers.
Beyond the common themes, President Trump appeared to have had an overall structure to his speech indicating that America is a nation to be proud of due to its exceptionalism, service, and pursuit of equality and justice. He also added that all of this is only possible with the protection of the U.S. Armed Forces and paid immense tribute to them.
First, President Trump summarized American exceptionalism as “the spirit, daring and defiance, excellence and adventure, courage and confidence, loyalty and love that built this country into the most exceptional nation in the history of the world.”
He underscored American exceptionalism in science and technology, referencing Thomas Edison’s invention of the lightbulb, Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone, the Wright brothers’ airplane, and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s moon landing. President Trump specifically spoke of America’s accomplishments in medicine, having invited Emil J. Freireich, one of the several American scientists who essentially helped cure childhood leukemia.
He emphasized American exceptionalism in culture, noting the contributions of jazz, rock and roll, rhythm and blues, the musical, the motion picture, the World Series, and the Super Bowl both to America and the world.
Next, President Trump underscored that America is a nation of service. He lauded Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, Tina Belcher, a dedicated volunteer during hurricane strikes for over three decades, and Sister Deirdre Byrne, a sister who administrated first aid during the September 11 attacks. In addition, President Trump praised “the heroes that serve our communities,” which include “the firefighters, first responders, police, sheriffs, ICE, Border Patrol, and the brave men and women of law enforcement.”
President Trump then addressed the “equality” and “justice” of America, paying tribute to the women’s suffrage movement in the early 1900s, the Greensboro sit-ins in 1960, and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. He also included “the Great Frederick Douglass,” Harriet Tubman, and Jackie Robinson in a list of names of the “leaders who defined our national character.”
Lastly, President Trump spent around 20 minutes remarking on the accomplishments of each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces and showed immense gratitude to each.
President Trump remarked on the Coast Guard’s critical role on D-Day, the breaking of the sound barrier by the Air Force, the Navy’s essential contribution to the Pacific War, the way that the Marines strike “fear into the hearts of our enemies,” and the Army’s legendary victories from the Battle of Trenton to the most recent war against ISIS.
He summarized all the people serving in the U.S. military as “warriors” with a “noble might” who continue the legacy of the original American revolutionaries.
Every time he devoted a special tribute to each of the branches, various military aircraft would fly in sight, while the U.S. Army Band performed the respective songs and hymns of each branch. The famous Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy’s flight demonstration squadron, concluded President Trump’s speech by flying above the crowd.
President Trump displayed a level of admiration and respect for the U.S. military that is usually unseen at such a scale in Fourth of July celebrations by previous presidents.
President Trump showed so much devotion to the U.S. military that he encouraged Americans “to join our military and make a truly great state of life.”
On the 243rd anniversary of our independence, President Trump successfully reminded all Americans of the greatness of our nation and the gratitude that we must demonstrate to the men and women who serve to protect our greatness.