Veterans groups hand out USS John McCain shirts on National Mall during Trump speech
© Vote Vets

Progressive groups VoteVets and Rags of Honor followed through on their promise to hand out "USS John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMartha McSally fundraises off 'liberal hack' remark to CNN reporter Meghan McCain blasts NY Times: 'Everyone already knows how much you despise' conservative women GOP senator calls CNN reporter a 'liberal hack' when asked about Parnas materials MORE" t-shirts to people during President TrumpDonald John TrumpRouhani says Iran will never seek nuclear weapons Trump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions Trump says Bloomberg is 'wasting his money' on 2020 campaign MORE’s July Fourth address..

VoteVets shared photos online showing a number of people sporting the shirts during the "Salute to America" event on the National Mall on Thursday.

Some lawmakers, including Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy Duckworth#MidnightMoscowMitch trends amid criticism of McConnell's proposed impeachment trial rules Democratic senator asks for meeting with Amtrak head over alleged disability discrimination Democrats request briefing on intel behind Trump's embassy threat claim MORE (D-Ill.) and Rep. Ted LieuTed W. LieuDemocratic lawmaker dismisses GOP lawsuit threat: 'Take your letter and shove it' Democratic lawmaker says Nunes threatened to sue him over criticism Paralysis of nations is empowering cities MORE (D-Calif.) also shared photos while wearing the shirts.

The shirts depict the USS John S. McCain with its nickname, “Big Bad John.”

The groups decided to hand out the shirts following reports earlier this year that the White House asked the Navy to "minimize visibility" of the Navy destroyer during Trump’s visit to Japan earlier this year, given the president's feud with the late GOP senator and Vietnam War veteran John McCain (Ariz.)


“We had a lot of policy battles with Sen. McCain, and fights on issues of war, but we always respected his service, and his sacrifice,” Jon Soltz, Iraq War veteran and Chair of VoteVets, told The Hill of its decision to distribute the shirts on the Mall.

“July 4 is about coming together as a country, to celebrate what has bound us together since 1776 – the belief in something bigger than yourself. While VoteVets and John McCain never much saw eye-to-eye on policy,” he continued in a statement, “and probably still would not if he was around today, his family’s service to America spoke to that sense of realizing this nation is bigger than just one man.” 

“Honoring that kind legacy – especially of a political opponent’s – seemed fitting for July 4,” Soltz added.

Trump spoke for 45 minutes Thursday evening at the Lincoln Memorial, focusing much of his Independence Day address on celebrating U.S. armed forces.