Growing up in Washington, D.C. means no other Independence Day celebration will live up to your childhood memories. For a relentlessly political, cynical city, they throw a heck of a party.
First, there’s the National Independence Day Parade. This ain’t no small, hometown parade where the local horses and fire trucks are the stars of the show. This is A Historical Spectacle. There are hundreds of Uncle Sams (some in balloon form or on stilts). Bewigged Founding Fathers abound, as do Paul Revere impersonators. Military bands–past and present–are pressed into service, sweating in wool uniforms and 100 degree heat. My sisters and I once counted seventy-five Betsy Rosses. (We would’ve liked some Deborah Sampsons better, but we cheered what female historical figures we could get.)
After the parade, tens of thousands of people descend on the National Mall. Some visit the National Archives, home of the Declaration of Independence, which has its own concert and historical impersonators.
When my dad worked on Capitol Hill (and had a parking space), we’d picnic on the hill below the Capitol building. Sometimes we’d watch the PBS “Capitol Fourth” concert (my younger sister was on TV once, even). Sometimes we walked to the Washington Monument for the best view of the fireworks, whining about the bugs and heat the whole way. When it was time for the big finale, Dad would race off to get the car. He’d have it waiting at the closest curb. We’d all pile in, trying to beat the traffic from the mass exodus.
After Dad lost his job and primo parking space, we picnicked at the Jefferson Memorial (less crowds, worse view of fireworks) or the Lincoln Memorial (more crowds, better fireworks view).
Every area that didn’t involve the fireworks display or wasn’t being restored was open to the public. Hippies with sparklers sang “Happy Birthday America.” Religious fanatics screamed that we were going to hell. Sunburned Midwesterners bought up flags and bug repellant. There were protestors of all kinds, but the celebration was open to all.
This is the first year I’m glad I’m not back home. Not because of the bugs, or the 100 degree heat, or 100% humidity. It’s not even because of crowds of willfully ignorant, drunk, white, flag-waving Americans confusing nationalism with patriotism.
It’s because Trump fucking ruins everything.
This year, Trump’s taking over the Lincoln Memorial and holding a political rally called “Salute to America.” You need a ticket to enter, and you won’t get one unless you’re a Republican friend, family, or political donor. If you support Trump, you can sit in the bleachers he’s erecting and have a perfect view of the fireworks display, which he moved to give himself the best seat in the house.
Trump insists on expensive flyovers by the Blue Angeles and bombers all the way from the midwest.
Trump’s diverting money desperately needed by our underfunded National Parks to pay for all this and tanks (technically “armored personnel carriers”). Never mind that the National Park Service and everyone else has warned Trump that tanks may crack roads and do other damage.
The Orange Pustule doesn’t care. He has to have military trappings to prove his greatness. Just like Hitler.
Maybe you think the Hitler comparison is over the top. It’s not, but fine. Here’s a more obvious comparison.
There was one other President who did his best to turn the Independence Day celebration at the Lincoln Memorial into a conservative, pro-President, pro-military, nationalistic event. The “Honor America Day” was arranged by white, conservative, Christian men (Mormon J.W. Marriott and Evangelist Billy Graham). It began with Graham praying. Next up were acts by Hollywood C-listers (because the A & B list declined). Marriott and Graham called these acts a “Salute to America” (which should also sound familiar, as, yes, Trump’s team is actually using the EXACT SAME NAME because they have no original thoughts). The first “Salute to America” even had Jeannie C. Riley bashing anti-war protestors by singing:
If you don’t love it, leave it
Let this song that I’m singin’ be a warnin’
When you’re runnin’ down our country, hoss
You’re walkin’ on the fightin’ side of me.
In case you haven’t figured out which President ordered the first odious “Salute to America,” it was Nixon.* Seriously. I can’t make this shit up. Trump literally stole his celebration idea from disgraced President Nixon, who eventually resigned rather than be impeached.
May Trump’s era end in the same ignominious fashion.
*Unlike Trump, however, Nixon was smart enough not to attend his own “Salute to America.” He stayed home in San Clemente, far away from the heat, the bugs, the protestors, and the tear gas.
18 thoughts on “Salute to Stupidity (#256)”
The antithesis of all the ideals to which we aspire.
Ugh that’s awful!!! I had no idea… honestly, sounds like something a dictator would do in an autocracy. Hell, at least in Russia when they celebrate the end of WW2 in the square in Moscow they don’t charge the public!
Very sad about national park money being used to fund this. 2020 can’t come soon enough.
It’s definitely an autocrat’s move. I mean, they wrap it up in “support the military,” but I am pretty sure the military would have preferred the day off.
We usually watch fireworks and that’s it. Really sad that I never felt part of America and would describe myself as a drifter.
Well, America is not the best at making people feel welcome. Especially not these day.
I came to America in 1994, and still didn’t feel welcome or part of the land. ( i live in Texas) When it comes to inclusion America really sucked back then. I never saw Russian Jewish immigrant women tales I could relate to. I never saw or felt encouraged to explore my roots, never saw teachers deviate in school from teaching us a more complete history of minorities or immigrants. It has always been the same old narrative. Also, I am pet peeved that very often the word colored people refers to African Americans and just brushes Asians and native Americans aside. Also, what should I make of the fact that I fall in a minority religion and come from eastern Europe rather than western Europe?
Yes, white America, and Texas in particular, is quite good “othering” people. In my area, there are quite a few Russian-Americans, but there’s a lot of every hyphenate American, especially Asian. Some states, like California, are better at recognizing past racial problems, but it takes getting minorities into power to change the culture and the narrative. Southern states are, without a doubt, among the most difficult to build any kind of community/ friend circle if you are a transplant of any color. The Ruby Ronin had a whole post about being miserable in Texas.
It is so interesting to see so many Americans celebrate the Fourth of July. Australian media really seem to hype up the fireworks.
I do wonder how much is spent on all the big parades and the military marching bands. But no wonder, the fireworks probably are the most costly of them all apart from what you mentioned. Some can ruin it for everybody, and even the fireworks can’t hide how the state of affairs are at the moment. Hopefully there will be a change of tides soon enough.
Fireworks are good eye candy for networks–very visual, very loud. We, in turn, see the Sydney Opera House every New Year’s Eve.
The fireworks were donated by a group lobbying against new tariffs. They don’t cost nearly as much as the military hardware, overtime, or the logistics of protecting the President at such an event.
Alright. May you continue watching the Sydney Opera House NYE’s fireworks (though I think quite a few of us Aussies don’t get the fanfare around the fireworks here lol).
I don’t get it, either. I’m like the geese huddled in the tidal basin in D.C.
Trump’s ex BFF Xi also likes tanks and military parades, hehe.
Dictatorial Staple, am I right?
What frightens/amuses me with Trump is that he is fulfilling the predictions of the various conspiracy theorists about previous presidents. We are living in momentous times, since we will witness either the survival of the Constitution against multiple threats, a slow degradation of it, or straight up strongman takeover, probably with some false flag operation.
I think you’ve covered all the possibilities there. I’d like to go with option A, but suspect too much of the country is stupid and racist.