WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will transform the traditional nonpartisan July 4 celebration on the National Mall in Washington into an event that focuses on a speech he plans to deliver at the Lincoln Memorial, the Interior Department confirmed Wednesday.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said Wednesday that the traditional Independence Day parade will now reflect the military parade President Trump has long sought. He said festivities would be altered to add as a focal event Trump’s speech.
He also said there will be a flyover by military jets, a first for the celebrations.
In order to open the area around the Lincoln Memorial for Trump’s speech, the fireworks will be launched from West Potomac Park, which abuts the Potomac River.
Traditionally the fireworks are launched from aside the Reflecting Pool, which is between the Lincoln Memorial and World War II Memorial on the mall, to frame the display behind the Washington Monument.
In February, Trump proclaimed his idea in a tweet, that read “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,” he said. “Major fireworks display, entertainment and an address by your favorite President, me!”
Presidents of both parties have traditionally avoided infusing themselves into the nonpartisan celebration, choosing to host events that reflect patriotism, according to the National Park Service.
For example, on July 4, 2008, President George W. Bush held a naturalization ceremony at the White House for 72 new U.S. citizens from 30 countries, while on July 4, 2010, President Barack Obama held a barbecue and fireworks viewing on the south lawn of the White House for 1,200 military personnel and their families, the Park Service said.
The last time the July 4 event was politicized was during President Ronald Reagan’s tenure. That was in 1983, when then-Interior Secretary James Watt banned the Beach Boys from performing what had become a regular concert near the Washington Monument, calling them “the wrong element.” He replaced them with Wayne Newton.
The Beach Boys returned in 1984 at the invitation of First Lady Nancy Reagan.