WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump’s second annual Fourth of July celebration will not have tanks or other military equipment on static display in the nation’s capital, according to defence officials.
Defence Secretary Mark Esper last week approved an Interior Department request for the 2020 “Salute to America”, providing aerial, musical and ceremonial support to the day’s events, Politico news quoted Army Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell, a Pentagon spokesperson, as saying on Sunday.
This year, the festivities will also include a flyover of Mount Rushmore, as Politico first reported, as well as an “aerial salute” to several cities that played roles in the American Revolution: Boston, New York City, Philadelphia and Baltimore, Mitchell said.
Roughly 1,700 service members will support the celebrations. Mitchell would not confirm details of the flyovers, which will involve Defense Department and “heritage” aircraft.
But another defence official said the request for the Washington, D.C., event included the Air Force’s Thunderbirds demonstration team, while the Navy’s Blue Angels will fly over Mount Rushmore on July 3.
This would mark the Thunderbirds’ first time participating in Trump’s “Salute to America” event. Last year’s festivities involved a Blue Angels flyover, according to the Politico news report.
Unlike last year, the July Fourth celebration will not include static displays on the mall of military ground equipment such as Bradley fighting vehicles, the two defence officials said. It was not immediately clear why the administration decided to eliminate the static displays this year, but their exclusion will likely reduce cost and crowds on the national mall.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the White House has said it will take precautions this year to ensure public safety during the July Fourth celebrations, although it has not provided details about what those measures would entail.
The development came after Trump promised the annual Independence Day celebration in the nation’s capital this year despite an outcry from lawmakers concerned about the public health implications of holding a large event.