“HOLD THE DATE! We will be having one of the biggest gatherings in the history of Washington, D.C., on July 4. 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!” President Donald Trump said on Feb. 24.
On July 4, our country will celebrate its 243rd birthday. As colonists, Americans had grown tired of the tyranny of King George III. They made the momentous decision to break away from Great Britain. The Declaration of Independence was written to explain their reasons.
One reason listed was, “The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.”
The Declaration was approved by the Continental Congress on July 2, 1776. On July 3, John Adams, later our second president, wrote to his wife Abigail, “The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America ... I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival ... It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
The Declaration was signed on July 4 by John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress, which is why we celebrate on July 4. The rest of Adams’ predictions did come true, however — “illuminations” and all. As early as 1783, Boston declared the Fourth of July an official holiday, and we’ve been celebrating on that day ever since.
One of those celebrations, A Capital Fourth, has been held in Washington, D.C., for 39 years. These celebrations have always been non-partisan events; presidents carefully stayed away. As with so many traditions President Trump has trashed, he couldn’t leave this one alone.
Trump’s tweet above implies he thinks having fireworks and entertainment is his original idea. Trump’s ignorance is nothing new. What’s disgusting is his desire to turn a celebration of our country’s birthday into a campaign rally. He previously wanted a huge military parade to honor him. That plan was scrapped for several reasons, so he’s highjacked the Independence Day commemoration instead.
It’s ironic and sad that Trump seems to have no idea what Independence Day is about or what the Declaration actually says. Americans wanted freedom from tyranny. Trump fawns over murderous tyrants. His wistful comments indicate he admires them and their methods.
Trump venerates several brutal leaders, starting with President Putin of Russia. Robert Mueller and every American intelligence agency presented conclusive evidence that Russia interfered with our 2016 election and is already interfering with the 2020 election.
What does Trump say? On July 16, 2018, in Helsinki, Finland, Trump stood next to Putin and said, “I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia... I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.” We were attacked in 2016, and Trump believes those who attacked us over our own agencies.
Chairman Kim Jong Un of North Korea is another cruel, ruthless dictator. Trump used to understand this, but then he and Kim began exchanging love letters. “He wrote me beautiful letters... And then we fell in love.” (Rally, W.Va., Sept. 29, 2018)
Trump and Kim met in Hanoi on Feb. 27-28 for a summit. When that summit collapsed, a South Korean newspaper reports that Kim executed his special envoy to the U.S. and four other foreign ministry officials. Kim starves, imprisons and murders his people. Trump loves him. (Reuters, May 30, 2019)
Trump admires so many other brutal thugs. Egyptian President al-Sissi has his opponents shot. Trump praises him. Thailand’s Prime Minister Chan-ocha jails those who oppose him, as does Turkish President Erdogan. Trump congratulates them. Philippine President Duterte has suspected drug dealers and users gunned down in the streets. He was invited to the White House. (Washington Post, May 2, 2017)
Trump is highjacking our national celebration so he can feel important. Despite his recent high-sounding speeches, written by others, his actions show he would love to be a tyrant in the mold of George III. He cares little about our American values or the sacrifices made to keep us free. If Trump writes his own speech, it won’t be about patriotism, sacrifice, and honor; it will be all about him. It always is.
Jeanette Strong, whose column appears every other week, is a Nevada Press Association award-winning columnist. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.