“We are defeating the radical left, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters and the people who, in many cases, have absolutely no idea what they are doing,” he said. “We will never let an angry crowd destroy our statues, erase our history, indoctrinate our children.
“And we will defend, protect and preserve (the) American way of life, which began in 1492 when Christopher Columbus discovered America. ”
He did not mention the dead from the pandemic. Nearly 130,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19
Even as officials across the country have pleaded with Americans to curb their enthusiasm for the big crowds on July 4, Trump drew the masses with a “special evening” of tribute and fireworks staged with new American coronavirus infections on the rise.
But the crowds wandering the National Mall for the air show and the night fireworks were surprisingly thinner than the rally for last year’s blocked celebration on the Mall.
Many of those who showed up wore masks, unlike those sitting close to each other for Trump’s South Lawn event, and the distance was easy for those scattered across the sprawling space.
Trump has not hesitated to use the country’s birthday as an opportunity to attack segments of the country that do not support him.
Taking up a theme he had hammered a day earlier in the context of the monuments of Mount Rushmore, he pursued those who destroyed statues or think that some of them, in particular those of Confederate figures, should be deleted. Support increased among Republicans to remove Confederate memorials.
“Our past is not a burden to reject,” said Trump.
Outside the event but as close as possible, Pat Lee from Upper Dublin, Pennsylvania, met with two friends, one of them a nurse from Fredericksburg, Virginia, and none in a mask.
“POTUS said it would go away,” Lee said of the pandemic, using an acronym for president of the United States. “The masks, I think, are like a hoax. But she said she was wearing one inside the Trump International hotel, where she stayed.
Through the Second World War Memorial, the National Park Service distributed packages of five white cloth masks to anyone who wanted them. People were not required to wear them.
Another nurse, Zippy Watt of Riverside, California, came to watch the air show and the fireworks with her husband and two daughters, one of whom lives in Washington. They wore masks matching the American flag even when they were sitting together on a park bench.
“We chose to wear a mask to protect ourselves and others,” said Watt. She said her family was divided over Trump, but she is “no longer a supporter of Trump. Being from southern California, I see socialist tendencies. I am tired of paying taxes so that others can stay at home. ”
Pat Lee made the trip from north of Philadelphia after watching the Mall celebration last year on television.
She said that the protests against racial injustice that took place near her were so threatening that people in her suburban neighborhood took turns all night long and those who did not have weapons placed bats mice and shovels in their garages. Her friend from Pennsylvania, who did not want to be identified, said that she had spent more than three hours online to buy a gun.
“I want people to stop calling us racists,” said Lee. “We are not racist. It is not because you love your country that you love the people of your country that you are racist. ”
Trump’s guests on the south lawn were doctors, nurses, law enforcement and military personnel as well as administration officials, said Judd Deere, assistant White House press secretary. He said the event was a tribute to the “tremendous courage and spirit” of frontline workers and the public in the pandemic.
Authorities in many parts of the country have discouraged mass holiday gatherings after days that have seen COVID-19 cases escalate at an unprecedented rate even during the deadliest phase of the pandemic in the spring.
In New York, once the epicenter, people were asked to avoid the crowds and the famous Nathan’s Fourth July hot dog contest took place in an undisclosed location, with no spectators at hand, before the evening’s spectacular televised fireworks over the Empire State Building.
In Philadelphia, descendants wearing masks and gloves of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence participated in a virtual listening of the famous Liberty Bell on Independence Mall and people were invited to join from afar by clinking glasses, tapping pots or ringing bells.
Yet Trump continued to draw large crowds when it came to his events.
It opened on holiday weekends on the way to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota for a firework display Friday evening near the mountain sculptures of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. In plain language, he accused protesters who lobbied for racial justice to engage in a “merciless campaign to erase our history”.
Even as he continued his celebrations, the shadow of the coronavirus approached him. Kimberly Guilfoyle, one of the main fundraisers for the president and girlfriend of her eldest child, Donald Trump Jr., has tested positive for the virus, Trump’s campaign said Friday night. Guilfoyle tweeted on Saturday that she was looking forward to “a speedy recovery”.
In a presidential message on Saturday morning, on the 244th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, Trump acknowledged that “in recent months, the American spirit has undoubtedly been brought to the fore. trial by many challenges ”.
His rival Democrat Joe Biden said in a statement that the United States “never respected” its founding principle that “all men are created equal”, but today “we have a chance to wrest the roots of systemic racism in this country ”. ”
Trump’s approval of the big rallies at the National Mall and Mount Rushmore came when many communities decided to suppress fireworks, parades and other holiday traditions in the hopes of avoiding even more outbreaks. ‘infection.
Confirmed cases were climbing in 40 states, and the United States set a new record Friday with 52,300 new infections reported, according to the count at Johns Hopkins University.
Trump did not dwell on the pandemic in his remarks on Saturday evening. Instead, he said that “our country is in great shape”.
Trump has been anxious to see the nation return to normal and has been willing to push the envelope further than many states and mayors of big cities are willing to go.
For Trump and the country, it was yet another party clouded by a pandemic that the United States has failed to control.
In late March, just over a week after welcoming the need to close much of the country, Trump spoke of reopening with “crowded” churches by Easter Sunday. He gave in to this push, his medical advisers warning him that it was far too ambitious. Then he spent chunks of his Memorial Day weekend getting worked up against critics who he said were unaware of the drop in cases and deaths at the time.
Associated Press editors Zeke Miller in Washington, Michelle Liu in Columbia, South Carolina and Sara Burnett in Chicago contributed to this report.