President Trump’s dream of a celebration showing off America’s military capabilities will become a reality on Thursday, as the president confirmed tanks will play a role in Washington, D.C.’s Fourth of July festivities — and the vehicles were seen being hauled in on a freight train.
An Associated Press photographer spotted the two M1A1 Abrams tanks, along with four other military vehicles, in a railyard at the southeastern edge of Washington. A military official earlier told the AP that the tanks were transported north from Fort Stewart in Georgia.
This comes after the president said Monday: “We’re going to have some tanks stationed outside.”
The vehicles include M1A1 Abrams tanks, the type currently used by American armed forces, as well as Sherman tanks, the kind commonly used during World War II, according to the president. Having tanks rolling down the streets of D.C. had raised concerns due to their weight, with the Abrams tanks weighing upwards of 60 tons each. Trump acknowledged these concerns Monday, without offering many details.
“You’ve got to be pretty careful with the tanks because the roads have a tendency not to like to carry heavy tanks,” Trump said Monday. “So we have to put them in certain areas, but we have the brand new Sherman tanks and we have the brand new Abrams tanks.”
The military display is all part of the “Salute to America” event that Trump is putting on this Thursday.
“I’m going to say a few words and we’re going to have planes going overhead, the best fighter jets in the world and other planes, too,” Trump said. This includes a demonstration by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels.
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted about the upcoming festivities, saying, “The Pentagon & our great Military Leaders are thrilled to be doing this & showing to the American people among other things, the strongest and most advanced Military anywhere in the World.”
Big 4th of July in D.C. “Salute to America.” The Pentagon & our great Military Leaders are thrilled to be doing this & showing to the American people, among other things, the strongest and most advanced Military anywhere in the World. Incredible Flyovers & biggest ever Fireworks!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 2, 2019
There will also be fireworks near the Lincoln Memorial, which is where Trump is scheduled to speak.
Democrats, though, are worried that the president will turn the national event into a political rally.
“President Trump’s efforts to insert politics into a celebration of our nation’s history is extremely alarming,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said in a statement last month. “Forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for what amounts to a political rally is irresponsible and a misuse of funds. I strongly urge the president to reconsider his proposed event.”
Hoyer was among several House Democrats who wrote a letter to Trump on June 6 asking him to abandon his plans, saying they worry it will “create the appearance of a televised, partisan campaign rally on the Mall at public expense.” In asking the president to reconsider, Democrats accused him of wanting to make the event about himself.
“We’re going to have a great Fourth of July in Washington, D.C. It’ll be like no other,” Trump countered. “It’ll be special and I hope a lot of people come. And it’s going to be about this country and it’s a salute to America.”
Along with the aerial demonstrations, fireworks and other festivities, PBS’s 39th annual “A Capitol Fourth” concert will take place on the West Lawn of the Capitol. It will be hosted by “Fuller House” actor John Stamos and include performances by singer-songwriter Carole King, actress and singer Vanessa Williams, pop star Colbie Caillat and a special appearance by the Sesame Street Muppets. A representative from PBS said “A Capitol Fourth” was not affiliated with Trump’s “Salute to America,” which is to be held at the Lincoln Memorial.
Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly and Brooke Singman, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Author: Ronn Blitzer