1,700 troops will support Trump ‘Salute to America’ celebrations July 4: Pentagon

The Pentagon announced Saturday that roughly 1,700 service members will be involved in the federal government’s upcoming July 4 celebrations. 

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper approved a request from the Department of the Interior for defense officials to “support to the 2020 Salute to America,” on July 4, according to a Saturday statement.

Trump’s 2019 expanded Independence Day commemorations were dubbed a “Salute to America.” The celebrations this year will also bare this name.

This year’s celebrations will include a flyover of Mount Rushmore, in addition to an “areal salute” in cities that “played roles in the American Revolution,” beginning in Boston and proceeding to New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., according to the Saturday statement.

The Defense Department will also “provide aerial, musical and ceremonial support” for the commemoration.

The Pentagon said Saturday that the flyovers are “an opportunity for DoD to demonstrate the capabilities and professionalism of the United States Armed Forces.”

Independence Day celebrations last year included flyovers by the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, B-2 stealth bomber, and F-22 Raptor, USA Today reported. Trump’s expanded Fourth of July celebrations last year doubled the cost of previous years, using $13 million in taxpayer funds, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

The 2019 event included a new fireworks show, a military display and a speech from the president on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  

Lawmakers have asked the president to cancel the Fourth of July event this year amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Ten lawmakers representing the National Capital region sent a letter to Esper and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on Tuesday expressing concerns over the event sparking an outbreak. 

“Given the current COVID-19 crisis, we believe such an event would needlessly risk the health and safety of thousands of Americans,” the lawmakers wrote. The letter was spearheaded by Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and signed by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and others.

“Further, this event would come at the cost of millions of taxpayer dollars while we are facing an unprecedented economic downturn due to the pandemic,” they added.

The White House said in a statement this week that “there will be an Independence Day celebration this year and it will have a different look than 2019 to ensure the health and safety of those attending.”

Tags Ben Cardin Chris Van Hollen Fourth of July Independence Day Mark Esper military service members Salute to America Steny Hoyer U.S. Military

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