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Salute to America: What to Expect From Trump’s Fourth of July Celebration

July 4, 2019, 9:00 AM UTC

President Donald Trump has been striving for a major display of military strength and patriotic power ever since attending France’s Bastille Day in 2017. This Independence Day, Trump just might get his wish.

Washington, D.C.’s Fourth of July celebrations will begin at 11:45 a.m. E.T. with the annual National Independence Day Parade, which runs down Constitution Ave from 7th to 17th Street. The parade will include marching bands, floats, balloons, military units, fife, and drum corps, drill units, and more. If you’re not in the capital, the parade will be streamed live from the National Independence Day Parade Facebook page.

The parade is scheduled to end around 2 p.m., but the festivities will pick up once again with a presidential address at 6:30 p.m. at the Lincoln Memorial. This portion, titled Salute to America, is a controversial addition to the annual celebrations, as critics worry it will politicize a day meant to celebrate national unity.

Trump’s address, however, is reportedly apolitical; he’s expected to honor the U.S. military. There will also be music performances and military demonstrations, including the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, the U.S. Army Band (“Pershing’s Own”), the Armed Forces Chorus, the United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Team, and more. The jetliner used for Air Force One and military aircraft representing all five branches—including the U.S. Navy Blue Angels—will fly over the event.

This portion of the evening is also where the military tanks are expected to be stationed. Trump had previously wanted to include such armored vehicles in a parade for Veterans Day, but the event was canceled after the administration recognized concerns over high costs and potential road damage. For Independence Day, however, the president’s demands were met.

Gates for Trump’s Salute to America open at 3:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, but a section in the front will reportedly be closed off for VIP guests, including military families and GOP supporters.

Trump’s address and its accompanying performances will be followed by the annual Capitol Fourth Concert on the U.S. Capitol’s West Lawn. Hosted by John Stamos, the concert will include performances by Carole King, Vanessa Williams, Colbie Caillat, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Sesame Street Muppets, and more. The concert is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. and can be watched live online.

Finally, the day will be rounded off with what Trump has called the “biggest ever” fireworks show. Barring any severe weather, the fireworks will be launched from West Potomac Park and behind the Lincoln Memorial (not from their usual location near the National Mall). They’re scheduled to begin precisely at 9:07 p.m. and last for around 35 minutes.

The fireworks are actually two separate shows: one provided jointly by Fireworks by Grucci and Phantom Fireworks, who donated $750,000 or more of the show, and one by Garden State Fireworks, who has been the pyrotechnics provider for D.C.’s Independence Day celebrations since 2013.

The cost of the entire day—particularly Trump’s Salute to America—is currently under wraps, according to NPR, but funds will be sourced through donations, the Department of Defense, and the Department of the Interior.

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