President Donald Trump had promised a “great show” for his Fourth of July “Salute To America” from the Lincoln Memorial, and few could doubt that it was, bolstered by a thrilling display of air might that soared over the National Mall during his speech.
With the flair and timing he honed as a reality TV star, Trump presided over carefully choreographed and impeccably sequenced flyovers by a B-2 stealth bomber, fighters, tiltrotor aircraft and attack and rescue helicopters, all arranged to fly by in concert with his remarks honoring each service branch.
There was even an element of suspense that the president played to effect, as threatening skies and intermittent rain earlier forced the evacuation of a section at the opposite end of the Mall near the Capitol.
Speaking from behind a rain-streaked bulletproof screen on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Trump charted the nation’s martial history, from its refusal to bow to a “faraway king” to the battle to defeat ISIS.
Democrats had warned that Trump would turn Independence Day in the nation’s capital into a political rally, but he appeared to stick closely to script, avoiding his usual asides on the border wall, tariffs or the unfairness of special counsel Robert Mueller.
The main theme was the “the greatest story ever told, the story of America,” Trump said, describing a United States that is the “most exceptional nation in the history of the world.”