By Royce J.
In a letter written in January 1900, former President Teddy Roosevelt once gave instructions to, “Speak softly, and carry a big stick.” Well, neither Trump nor his critics speak softly, but only one of them has room to speak the day after a colossal demonstration of military might, honor and reverence for those who serve, heart warming patriotism, selected American history, and eye watering firework displays. Carry a big wick, perhaps? Trump certainly is well adept at lighting fuses, but on this day, would he leave that to the explosives experts?
The idea of Donald Trump pulling-off a widely praised event is unsettling for some, painful for others, and downright intolerable for his most impassioned critics. But that’s exactly what Trump did, effectively declawing the wild cats who’ve been scratching at his very being for the duration of his presidency—if only for a day.
While standing before a sea of thousands of rain-dampened Americans, blue and red blooded alike, Trump refreshingly committed to shouldering his arms, ironically refraining from taking shots at his opponents on a day dedicated to our national defense.
In his 45 minute speech, Trump paid homage to some of the most famous figures, documents, and revered moments in American History: from George Washington’s Washington’s continental Army taking a stand against the invading British in New York, 1776, to John Paul Jones refusing to surrender on the high seas, to Lincoln predicting that a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from this earth.”
In addition to saluting the five military branches backed by their official songs, Trump also carefully noted those who have fought, and are fighting for us to enjoy the liberty and independence that defines our great nation by delivering personalized vignettes of their sacrifices. One of these offerings involved Marine Lance Corporal Jeffrey Nashton, who while laying in a hospital bed blinded and badly injured, reached up and touched his general’s four stars, then, with his failing strength, wrote down two words on a piece of paper: Semper Fi.
Another involved 18 year old Clarence Henderson (present at the ceremony), protesting for Civil Rights by sitting in at a lunch counter as a college student in North Carolina. Then there was Tina Belcher, or as she’s known to those in the community, Mrs. Angel (also present), who for years has been opening her home as a relief to disaster victims in the Florida panhandle.
There were many more of these stories of those who served their country, not just from behind a rifle, but within our hospitals, on our streets, and in our space programs. As a card carrying Green Party member with no affiliation with either the Republican or Democratic party, it was disappointing, although not altogether unexpected, that many media outlets (see NY Times, Huffington Post, CNN) didn’t concentrate on the respect paid to this diverse crowd of Americans. Rather, they continued to snipe at the President through derisive commentary harping on concerns about ceremony costs, the militarization of Independence Day, his lack of military service, and its political ramifications. The President laid down his arms, but the press just couldn’t seem to follow suit.
As an attendee of the ceremony, I can tell you that it filled me with gratitude for everyone who forged our nation, and those who continue to weld it together despite its tendency to fracture.
The flyovers left everyone in the crowd awed and breathless at the display of American engineering, courage, and skilled precision. The sonic wave that rushed through the starred and striped crowd seemed to temporarily sweep away all political affiliations and agendas, leaving the people united under the awesome presence of the Blue Angels.
It’s saddening that some are so tied to their political alliance that they cant let go long enough to enjoy a celebration hosted by our President. When asked if he would have attended, a DC personal trainer, was quoted as saying, “Something flying overhead isn’t enough to make me want to support that a-hole at the helm.” Furthermore, pictures posted by me of the event on digital media seemed to only receive positive response from Trump supporters, and none from his detractors.
Twitter is still filled by those debating the crowd size of the event, historical errors in his speech, and generally consuming the sour grapes of a defeated combatant. As a counter balance, political commentator Ari Fleischer tweeted, “I don’t care what your politics are, this tribute to our military on Independence Day is beautiful and inspiring.”
Much respect to those who put aside their differences and showed up to a party dedicated to honoring our nation amongst their fellow Americans, rather than crouching in their political foxholes with their like-minded brothers, armored in disgust for its master of ceremonies. Yes, many of Trump’s actions are deplorable, dishonest and irresponsible, but it seems to only have the net-effect of us turning against our neighbors instead of keeping an openminded stream of dialogue flowing with one other.
There was a definite hysteria that burned like wildfire through the public consciousness: The President has created a costly and dangerous militarization and politicization of Independence Day. Tanks in the streets, Tiananmen Square anybody? War of the Worlds!
In the end, the incendiary prophecies of the naysayers failed to ignite. A day after the festivities, the President’s critics preside over the funeral of their criticism, while the body of their unrealized concerns lies in state—outside, waves of colorful lights still stream through the smoke filled night sky.