Trump Celebrates Himself on July 4

By Medea Benjamin and Ann Wright

This year’s Fourth of July celebration on the National Mall in Washington, DC has become a stop on the Trump for President re-election campaign trail.  His “Salute to America” has become a “Salute to Donald Trump.” He has called the events the “show of a lifetime!” and an unprecedented celebration of American military strength.

Presidents have traditionally stayed away from July 4 celebrations out of concern that it would politicize independence day.   The last time there was a similar attempt at a Presidential take-over of the Fourth of July was fifty years ago in 1970 when President Nixon, appearing by video from the White House, wanted a huge display for support for the Vietnam War.  However, the Mall ending up being filled with anti-war protesters whose presence symbolized the outrage at the war on Vietnam.  

The last time a president took part in a July 4 program in Washington DC was in 1987 and the last time military tanks were seen on DC streets was 27 years ago during the 1991 Gulf War parade. 

Trump’s militarized Mall has the feeling of Red Square and Pyongyang—and France’s Bastille Day which Trump seems to be trying to replicate his trip to Paris two summers ago.  The “supreme leader” wannabe of the United States will preside over jet fly-overs, including one from the Air Force One fleet, and tanks, admittedly, not many of them because the crumbling roads of the nation’s capital cannot withstand the weight of the huge military equipment.  

Joining the Air Force One plane will be Blue Angels, an F-35 jet from the Navy, at least one aircraft from Marine Helicopter Squadron One, a B-2 stealth bomber, and F-22 Raptor fighter jets.  Commercial air traffic into National Airport will be disrupted for three hours as Trump smiles triumphantly from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  

Trump’s decision to capture the Fourth of July for his personal use and the huge expense that U.S.military, National Park Service and the City of Washington is incurring, no doubt is causing great heartburn in career government employees in the Pentagon, State Department and probably even in the White House, as well as from the general public.  Pentagon officers refuse to provide information on the costs of the planes, tanks and other military equipment and are “hiding out and hoping it all blows over."

US Congressional Representative Elijah Cummings tweeted that: “President Trump is willing to spend millions of taxpayer dollars and accept donations of fireworks for his partisan Fourth of July celebration while his Administration is turning away donations of diapers and toothpaste for immigrant children.”

Presidential candidate Marianne Williamson reflected the sentiments of many people throughout the country when she tweeted: “Watching army tanks being hauled through DC for Trump’s July 4 celebration is heartbreaking & repugnant.”

Despite complaints from Congresspersons, the DC city council and civil society, the military dominated Fourth of July will go forward.  However, 12 years ago, during the Bush administration’s wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, citizen activism forced the Bush administration to end its military equipment display on the Mall that would take place every year on Mother’s Day, a day that was created as a call by mothers to end all wars. For five years, CODEPINK: Women for Peace organized demonstrations against the having military equipment on the National Mall. CODEPINKers climbed onto and into tanks and unfurled Stop the Wars and peace flags. We sang peace songs and gave away peace buttons while the military was giving away foam grenades as gifts.  Finally, after five years, the military ended their equipment displays on the Mall on Mother’s Day.

This year, CODEPINK is challenging Trump and his policies by flying the internationally famous Trump Baby Balloon on the National Mall on July 4, and having a “Trump is a Big Baby Festival.” The 20-foot balloon that features Trump in a diaper and with a cellphone for his tweets is an apt symbol for a president who is so erratic, self-centered, prone to tantrums, and doesn’t care about the consequences of his actions. If Trump tries to do this antic again next year—politicizing and militarizing our national holidaywe better have more than a big balloon to greet him. 

This is also why we are promoting our Support the Peacemakers bumper stickers. 

Medea Benjamin is the co-founder of CODEPINK: Women for Peace and the author of numerous books including “Inside Iran,”  “Kingdom of the Unjust: Saudia Arabia” and “Killing by Remote Control-Drones.”

Ann Wright is a retired U.S. Army Colonel and a former U.S. diplomat who resigned in 2003 in opposition to Bush’s war on Iraq. She is the co-author of “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.”


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  • John Broussard
    commented 2019-07-07 21:33:11 -0400
    Got it!
    WHY people are killed in wars is what is important, not the numbers. It doesn’t matter how many people die, just so long as the leaders can justify the killings. America’s wars are always justified, so the vast numbers who have died in those wars are irrelevant.
    Might makes right. It’s a privilege to die for one’s country, whichever one it happens to be. It’s a grand old flag. Amerikaland uber alles.
  • Michael Davis
    commented 2019-07-07 16:03:36 -0400
    I think some commentators here should read the history on WHY the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Do the commentators know that the Empire of Japan (as well as the Nazi’s) were working on the atomic bomb too and were very close to completing their A-bombs? It surely would have been used on the United States if they had them ready. Thank God they did not! What country attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor without notice, killing thousands and wounding many American military and civilians? …..Japan. The facts are that the Japanese people were warned very explicitly by the dropping of thousands of leaflets all over their cities (See: Harry S. Truman Library, Miscellaneous Historical Document File # 258) and were repeatedly warned prior to the dropping of the second A-bomb. The Emperor still would not surrender because he was seen as and believed he was a God. There is no doubt in my mind that the real reason that Japan finally surrendered was NOT solely because of the A-bombs but the concurrent refusal of Russia to join with Japan against the Allies and instead became AT WAR with them! What is taught in our schools today is watered down and needs to be clarified. If you are out of school read what the real history is from scholarly sources then form your opinion.
  • Adam Gorelick
    commented 2019-07-07 04:35:36 -0400
    A truly bankrupt and pathetic gesture that’s less a show U.S. Imperial might than the howling emptiness of a posturing loser. Hopefully, next year the balloon will have more hot air left than Trump.
  • Tony Marino
    commented 2019-07-05 11:15:30 -0400
    War is profitable for the few and killing off who they think can get in the way of a peaceful world. We all need to see with an open mind what is really going on from actions, not words!!
  • John Broussard
    commented 2019-07-05 10:12:38 -0400
    Yes, America IS exceptional. We’ve killed more people in one second, in one hour, in one day. Twice, that is. Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Not just soldiers, but civilian men, women and children. Also wars, wars and more wars. Most of them over seas. And longer wars. Afghanistan, now for over twenty years.

  • John Broussard
    commented 2019-07-05 10:12:22 -0400
    Yes, America IS exceptional. We’ve killed more people in one second, in one hour, in one day. Twice, that is. Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Not just soldiers, but civilian men, women and children. Also wars, wars and more wars. Most of them over seas. And longer wars. Afghanistan, now for over twenty years.

  • Francine Goldberg
    commented 2019-07-04 09:55:20 -0400
    Boy, the trolls were up early today! Keep on drinking that orange kool-aid!
  • Pamela Drew
    commented 2019-07-04 04:50:43 -0400
    Militarizing our holiday……………..ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Do you even know what the 4th of July history is truly about? You need to educate yourselves since INDEPENDENCE DAY is the day we became free of the British control. It is the day the Declaration of Independence was and is about………………..It is your ignorance that is destroying this country, the flag and our freedom.
  • Michael Davis
    commented 2019-07-04 04:43:03 -0400
    I listened to BBC on my local NPR station on July 4, 2019 where I heard Ms. Benjamin express her thoughts about how Americans should spend their Fourth of July. I was sickened by what she said. I am a Purple Heart decorated Vietnam veteran who served our country and assisted the people of South Vietnam for six years. Many of my friends were killed or maimed. The real hero’s are the ones who never came back alive. I have witnessed the limitless inhumanity that the enemy can inflict upon US soldiers. I was wounded in battle twice and was extremely lucky to survive. I have seen the horror of war, dead babies and young children floating down the Mekong Delta, my buddy’s head blown off twenty feet from me, my friends killed… alive one second and in an instant killed in service to our country. Yet with all that I have done and seen I am still VERY patriotic and VERY American. How much does Ms. Benjamin know about the horror of war? In what war has she served our country? What gives her the audacity to say on the worldwide BBC that Americans don’t want to celebrate the Fourth of July with a parade of our military strength on this day? And the false and derogatory things she has said that this parade is only about our President Mr. Trump? What if I told you that there are MANY veterans and MANY other Americans who love this idea! Many of us also KNOW because they have seen that President Trump has done more for the United States in national security, job creation, and hope for a much better future for OUR children than ANY other president since the time of President Truman. I cannot imagine to what depths of destruction our nation would be in now if Hillary Clinton were in charge. Ms. Benjamin is so hell bent to get her digs into President Trump she is blinded to it all. Her hatred and others with a similar twisted bleeding heart mindset is what divides this country. It’s not President Trump. He only offers hope for a better future to ALL legal citizens in our nation. The facts are clear though only one the question remains: How much of Ms. Benjamin’s blood has she spilled in battle to keep Americans at home in the lifestyle to which they have been accustomed? What she has said is a disgrace to all open minded, patriotic and sane Americans who can see the truth of what is happening since President Trump took office. Rest assured he WILL be re-elected in 2020.
  • Nick Blanchard
    commented 2019-07-04 02:54:05 -0400
    Furthermore, in this group’s own definitions of nonviolence it states “We will maintain an attitude of openness and respect toward all people we encounter in our actions.” Is this balloon of our president in any way respectful? Does this balloon somehow make you all feel good inside like you’ve done some kind of good for this country? Does this balloon somehow make you feel as though people are going to see you as more than a joke? And let’s be real, do you think that somehow, this balloon is going to make the president care how he hurt your feelings? Yeah, probably not. God bless America and God bless President Trump! Trump2020
  • Nick Blanchard
    commented 2019-07-04 02:46:54 -0400
    Well, I would think for a retired colonel you would have more respect for our commander in chief. This is some of the most childish, petty nonsense that I have ever seen. The idea that a group of people will come together to spend time and money on something so insignificant astounds me. How about you try spending that time and money on making some real changes- feed the homeless, volunteer at a shelter, anything to suggest you people even resemble adults. Grow up.