Opinion | Morgan Liddick: Trump’s Fourth a paean to heroism, self-sacrifice and honor in service
Once again, not quite as advertised. Once again, fat chance the chattering classes will admit they got it wrong.
As late as July 2, The Washington Post and others were whining about the president’s plans for a Fourth of July celebration on the National Mall, featuring a speech at the Lincoln Memorial and a substantial military presence. “No president has participated in an Independence Day celebration on the Mall in recent memory …” CNN reporter Jamie Erlich sniffed. Others detected egoism in the very thought of a presidential speech on the Fourth. “If the president moves to make this about him, I think he will find the American public disappointed and angered by it,” Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum said in an interview with The Washington Post, obviously expecting just that.
The Huffington Post called the event a “hijacking” of the Fourth of July, as if patriotism and honoring the military was never before witnessed at an anniversary of our national independence and anticipated “embarrassingly small crowds,” as did the internet Trollosphere. Twitter repeated the lie that the White House had photoshopped pictures of a 2008 concert onto the event to cover up low attendance, but even Snopes said that was bunk.Unfortunately for the naysayers, the crowd was very large, reaching back past the Washington Monument despite inclement weather.
As for the phalanx of Trump-haters who expected the entire Banana Republic Tinpot Dictator schtick — mostly because they have talked themselves into seeing the president as just that over the past two years — things didn’t turn out quite as anticipated. Instead, attendees and those who watched on television were treated to a paean to heroism, self-sacrifice and honor in service to the security of the nation and its values, particularly of liberty, the foundational principle of the republic. America’s uniformed services were individually honored, a brief outline of their histories given and some of their present accomplishments mentioned. President Donald, usually reliable for injecting a large portion of himself into his speeches, was notably absent from this one. From first to last it was, as advertised, a celebration of our military.
Was it perfect? Hardly. There were two noticeable bobbles during an otherwise very smooth and well-delivered speech. But that’s hardly terrible for a 47-minute presentation by a president known for extemporizing. The visuals were also odd, given the positioning of the cameras and an apparent lack of coordination among the directors of videography. The positioning of the turret of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle near the podium presented a visual both unfortunate and avoidable with a little forethought. And the whole president-in-an-aquarium effect of the rain-splashed security glass was more than a little odd.
The event also had its detractors. Pete Buttigeig, one of the double-gaggle of Democrats running for a chance to displace Trump, spoke for many when he told The Washington Post that “reducing our nation to tanks and shows of muscle, just makes us look like the loudmouth guy at the bar …” instead of the diverse, tolerant, cosmopolitan behaviors he and many other progressives like him think keep us ahead of our enemies.
Memo to Mayor Pete: Neither Russia’s Vlad the Terrible nor Iran’s mullahs nor any other bloodthirsty tyrant who would like nothing more than to precipitate you from the top of the tallest building they could find, is deterred one second from doing so by good manners or a sense of tolerance. They are prevented from doing so by those Trump honored July 4 and who you characterized as a bunch of loudmouthed drunks. That you think this comparison advantages you is another indication of a peculiar and dangerous form of blindness.
Petty and now-foolish-looking critics aside, however, the event was exactly as advertised: a celebration of our military, of our country’s extraordinary character and history, and of patriotism. It was entirely appropriate for the Fourth of July.
The celebration’s messages were familiar truths to anyone who thinks clearly about this country: that our United States is a unique experiment and a bold advancement of human liberty, that we must meet present and future challenges together if we expect to succeed, and that we should appreciate both the gifts the founders gave us and the sacrifices of those who continue to keep us safe at home and abroad.
They are messages we should all be able to support no matter the source, because they are true on July 4 and on every other day of the year.
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