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JayMac: Will July 4th military parade salute America or Trump?

An Army soldier hops out of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle after moving it into place near the Lincoln Memorial, Wednesday, July 3, 2019, in Washington, ahead of planned Fourth of July festivities with President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

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President Donald Trump’s Fourth of July celebrations on the National Mall, featuring a military parade and flyovers, are set to roll. But the tanks, which are set to be part of his “Salute to America,” won’t be rolling down the streets of Washington, D.C..

He seemed to suggest a small number of tanks would be on static display after they were brought there on tank carriers.

“You’ve got to be pretty careful with the tanks because the roads have a tendency not to like to carry heavy tanks so we have to put them in certain areas. But we have the brand new Sherman tanks and we have the brand new Abrams tanks,” Trump said.

It was not clear what Trump meant by Sherman tanks, which have not been part of the U.S. inventory since the 1950s.

Trump has wanted a military parade included in July Fourth celebrations since being impressed by the July 14 Bastille Day festivities in Paris that he attended in 2017, which featured more than 60 airplanes, over 20 helicopters, plus horses and soldiers, according to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.

In February, Trump tweeted:

The chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines will reportedly stand next to Trump during the flyovers on the Mall.

The B-2 stealth bomber and the F-22 fighter jet are expected to participate in the celebration, according to two Pentagon officials. Marine MV-22 Ospreys and the new VH-92 Marine One aircraft will also be involved, according to another defense official.
Almost $2.5 million from National Park Service fees will be diverted to cover the costs of the July Fourth events, according to two people familiar with the situation, according to the Washington Post, but that doesn’t include the flyovers or the military equipment participating in the event.
“That money is supposed to be used for national parks such as the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone,” said Phil Francis, head of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks.
A White House official stressed Trump’s speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial is not a political event.
“I’m going to say a few words and we’re going to have planes going overhead, the best fighter jets in the world and other planes, too,” Trump said. “And it’s going to be about this country, and it’s a salute to America.”
Harry Truman was the last U.S. president to speak on the National Mall on the Fourth of July in 1951.
“I hope it doesn’t turn into a political rally,” said Barry Bennett, a Republican consultant who worked on the Trump campaign in 2016.
Senior presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway seemed to undermine the White House assertion that the speech will not be political by saying it will highlight “the success of this administration in opening up so many jobs for individuals, what we’ve done for veterans,” including celebrating democracy, patriotism, and the military.

National Democratic lawmakers are already concerned it will become a political speech and an event to commandeer the festivities to bolster Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign.

“President Trump’s efforts to insert politics into a celebration of our nation’s history is extremely alarming,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said last month.

Last month in France, on the 75th anniversary of D-Day with the grave of those who died in the background, Trump blasted special counsel Robert Mueller and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in an interview with Fox News.

“Nancy Pelosi is a disaster,” Trump said

Just over half — 52% — were OK with Trump delivering a speech from the Lincoln Memorial as part of the July Fourth festivities, while 34% were opposed, the Monmouth University Poll released on Monday showed. But the poll also found that only 20% had heard much about Trump’s plans. From that subset of 20% who were more informed, 56% disapproved and 37% approved, the poll found, according to military.com