President Trump will go forward with plans to deliver an address to the nation during Washington D.C.'s annual July 4th celebration as part of a ceremony complete with military demonstrations and flyovers.
The Interior Department on Wednesday revealed the plans after months of deliberations and controversy about how exactly the president planned to put his mark on the traditional capital celebrations.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced the details of the Independence Day celebration, which the administration has dubbed "Salute to America."
“There is no more appropriate place to celebrate the anniversary of American independence than among the Nation’s monuments on the National Mall and the memorials to the service men and women who have defended the United States for the past 243 years,” Bernhardt said in a statement Wednesday. “For the first time in many years, the World War II Memorial and areas around the Reflecting Pool will be open for the public to enjoy a stunning fireworks display and an address by our Commander-in-Chief.”
He added: “We are excited to open these new areas so that more visitors may experience this year’s Independence Day celebration in our nation’s capital.”
According to the Department of the Interior, the National Independence Day Parade will begin in the morning and last through the early afternoon on July 4—fully-equipped with marching bands, drum corps, military units, giant balloons, drill teams and more.
In the early evening, around 6:30 p.m., Trump’s “Salute to America” celebration will begin. The event is slated to be a “celebration of America’s military with music, military demonstrations and flyovers.” Air Force One is scheduled to fly over the National Mall and U.S. military planes are expected to take part as well.
As part of the celebration, the president is slated to address the nation from the Lincoln Memorial—a move that has prompted criticism from Democrats.
“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 in a statement earlier this month. “Forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for what amounts to a political rally is irresponsible and a misuse of funds. I strongly urge the president to reconsider his proposed event.”
Hoyer is among several House Democrats who wrote a letter to Trump on June 6 asking him to abandon his plans, saying they worry it will “create the appearance of a televised, partisan campaign rally on the Mall at public expense.” In asking the president to reconsider, Democrats accused him of wanting to make the event about himself.
Meanwhile, the administration will also co-sponsor a concert on the West Lawn of the Capitol which will feature the National Symphony Orchestra.
Later, the “spectacular fireworks display” will commence over the National Mall. The fireworks will be launched from West Potomac Park and behind the Lincoln Memorial, and are expected to be visible from locations throughout Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia.
Trump teased the celebration on Tuesday, during the launch of his 2020 re-election campaign rally.
“By the way, on July 4th in Washington D.C., come on down! We’re going to have a big day!” Trump said. “We’re going to have hundreds of thousands of people!”
Trump has been hinting at a new Independence Day celebration for months, tweeting in February: “HOLD THE DATE! We will be having one of the biggest gatherings in the history of Washington, D.C., on July 4th. It will be called ‘A Salute to America’ and will be held at the Lincoln Memorial. Major fireworks display, entertainment and an address by your favorite President, me!”
But the new plans have raised some logistical concerns with city officials.
“We have a lot of people come to the Fourth of July. Logistically, over the years, the kinks have been worked out,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser told the Washington Post last month. “We don’t want to throw off what already works.”
The move to amend the July 4 celebrations in Washington comes after Trump floated the possibility of holding a military parade, an idea he got when he attended Bastille Day celebrations in France.
But the military parade idea was dropped after senior White House and Pentagon leaders estimated it would cost $92 million.
“When asked to give us a price for holding a great celebratory military parade, they wanted a number so ridiculously high that I cancelled[sic] it. Never let someone hold you up!” Trump tweeted last year.
Fox News' Lukas Mikelionis, Lucas Tomlinson and Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.