President Trump delivered a speech long on praise for America and its armed forces — and largely devoid of the highly political content critics feared he would inject into his taxpayer-funded July Fourth extravaganza.
Crowds gathered on the rain-soaked National Mall for two separate events — Trump's "Salute to America" military-inspired event in front of the Lincoln Memorial, and the traditional Independence Day concert featuring Carole King and the National Symphony Orchestra at the other end near the Capitol.
Trump, who spoke for nearly an hour, stocked his remarks with historical anecdotes about each branch of the military and musical interludes to allow warplanes and helicopters to roar over the large crowd.
The president, who received multiple draft deferments during the Vietnam War, urged young Americans to join the military, saying doing so would "make a truly great statement in life."
He also said the Army "took over the airports" during the American Revolution — or the War of 1812 — either way, long before they were invented.
"In June of 1775, the Continental Congress created a unified Army out of the Revolutionary Forces encamped around Boston and New York, and named after the great George Washington, commander in chief," Trump said. "The Continental Army suffered a bitter winter of Valley Forge, found glory across the waters of the Delaware and seized victory from Cornwallis of Yorktown."
"Our Army manned the air, it rammed the ramparts, it took over the airports, it did everything it had to do. And at Fort McHenry, under "the rocket’s red glare," it had nothing but victory," he said. "And when dawn came, their star-spangled banner waved defiant."