Remarks by President Trump at a Salute to America
Lincoln Memorial Washington, D.C. July 4 6:36 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, America. Hello. The First Lady and I wish each and every one of you a Happy Independence Day on this truly historic Fourth of July! (Applause.)
Today, we come together as one nation with this very special Salute to America. We celebrate our history, our people, and the heroes who proudly defend our flag - the brave men and women of the United States Military. (Applause.)
We are pleased to have with us Vice President Mike Pence and his wonderful wife Karen. (Applause.) We are also joined by many hardworking members of Congress; Acting Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and many other members of my Cabinet; and also the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joe Dunford. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)
Lieutenant General Daniel Hokanson of the National Guard and distinguished leaders representing each branch of the United States Armed Forces: the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, and, very soon, the Space Force. (Applause.)
As we gather this evening in the joy of freedom, we remember that we all share a truly extraordinary heritage. Together, we are part of one of the greatest stories ever told: the story of America. It is the epic tale of a great nation whose people have risked everything for what they know is right and what they know is true. It is the chronicle of brave citizens who never give up on the dream of a better and brighter future. And it is the saga of thirteen separate colonies that united to form the most just and virtuous republic ever conceived. (Applause.)
On this day, 243 years ago, our Founding Fathers pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to declare independence and defend our God-given rights. (Applause.)
Thomas Jefferson wrote the words that forever changed the course of humanity: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." (Applause.)
With a single sheet of parchment and 56 signatures, America began the greatest political journey in human history. But on that day, the patriots who would determine the ultimate success of the struggle were a hundred miles away in New York. There, the Continental Army prepared to make its stand, commanded by the beloved General George Washington. (Applause.)
As the delegates debated the Declaration in Philadelphia, Washington's army watched from Manhattan as a massive British invading fleet loomed dangerously across New York harbor. The British had come to crush the revolution in its infancy. Washington's message to his troops laid bare the stakes. He wrote: "The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army...We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die." (Applause.)
Days later, General Washington ordered the Declaration read aloud to the troops. The assembled soldiers just joined an excited crowd running down Broadway. They toppled a statue of King George and melted it into bullets for battle. The faraway King would soon learn a timeless lesson about the people of this majestic land: Americans love our freedom and no one will ever take it away from us. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
THE PRESIDENT: That same American spirit that emboldened our founders has kept us strong throughout our history. To this day, that spirit runs through the veins of every American patriot. It lives on in each and every one of you here today. It is the spirit of daring and defiance, excellence and adventure, courage and confidence, loyalty and love that built this country into the most exceptional nation in the history of the world, and our nation is stronger today than it ever was before. (Applause.) It is its strongest now. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!
THE PRESIDENT: That same righteous American spirit forged our glorious Constitution.
That rugged American character led the legendary explorers, Lewis and Clark, on their perilous expedition across an untamed continent. It drove others to journey West and stake out their claim on the wild frontier.
Devotion to our founding ideals led American patriots to abolish the evil of slavery, secure civil rights, and expand the blessings of liberty to all Americans. (Applause.)
This is the noble purpose that inspired Abraham Lincoln to rededicate our nation to a new birth of freedom, and to resolve that we will always have a government of, by, and for the people. (Applause.)
Our quest for greatness unleashed a culture of discovery that led Thomas Edison to imagine his lightbulb, Alexander Graham Bell to create the telephone, the Wright Brothers to look to the sky and see the next great frontier. For Americans, nothing is impossible. (Applause.)
Exactly 50 years ago this month, the world watched in awe as Apollo 11 astronauts launched into space with a wake of fire and nerves of steel, and planted our great American flag on the face of the moon. Half a century later, we are thrilled to have here tonight the famed NASA Flight Director who led Mission Control during that historic endeavor: the renowned Gene Kranz. (Applause.)
Gene, I want you to know that we are going to be back on the moon very soon. And someday soon, we will plant the American flag on Mars. (Applause.) It's happening, Gene. It's happening.
Our nation's creativity and genius lit up the lights of Broadway and the soundstages of Hollywood. It filled the concert halls and airwaves around the world with the sound of jazz, opera, country, rock and roll, and rhythm and blues. It gave birth to the musical, the motion picture, the Western, the World Series, the Super Bowl, the skyscraper, the suspension bridge, the assembly line, and the mighty American automobile. (Applause.)
It led our citizens to push the bounds of medicine and science to save the lives of millions.
Here with us this evening is Dr. Emmanuel [Emil] Freireich. When Emmanuel [Emil] began his work, 99 percent of children with leukemia died. Thanks largely to Dr. Freireich's breakthrough treatments, currently 90 percent of those with the most common childhood leukemias survive. Doctor, you are a great American hero. Thank you. (Applause.)
Americans always take care of each other. That love and unity held together the first pilgrims, it forged communities on the Great Plains, it inspired Clara Barton to found the Red Cross, and it keeps our nation thriving today.
Here tonight from the Florida panhandle is Tina Belcher. Her selfless generosity over 3 decades has made her known to all as "Mrs. Angel." Every time a hurricane strikes, Mrs. Angel turns her tiny kitchen into a disaster relief center. On a single day after Hurricane Michael, she gave 476 people a warm meal. Mrs. Angel, your boundless heart inspires us all. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much.
From our earliest days, Americans of faith have uplifted our nation. This evening, we are joined by Sister Deirdre Byrne. Sister Byrne is a retired Army surgeon who served for nearly 30 years. On September 11th, 2001, the sister raced to Ground Zero. Through smoke and debris, she administered first aid and comfort to all. Today, Sister Byrne runs a medical clinic serving the poor in our nation's capital. Sister, thank you for your lifetime of service. Thank you. (Applause.)
Our nation has always honored the heroes who serve our communities: the firefighters, first responders, police, sheriffs, ICE, Border Patrol, and all of the brave men and women of law enforcement. (Applause.)
On this July 4th, we pay special tribute to the military service members who laid down their lives for our nation. We are deeply moved to be in the presence this evening of Gold Star families whose loved ones made the supreme sacrifice. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much.
Throughout our history, our country has been made ever greater by citizens who risked it all for equality and justice. 100 years ago this summer, the women's suffrage movement led Congress to pass the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote. (Applause.)
In 1960, a thirst for justice led African American students to sit down at the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Applause.) It was one of the very first civil rights sit-ins and it started a movement all across our nation.
Clarence Henderson was 18-years-old when he took his place in history. Almost six decades later, he is here tonight in a seat of honor. Clarence, thank you for making this country a much better place for all Americans. (Applause.)
In 1963, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., stood here on these very steps and called on our nation to live out the "true meaning of its creed," and "let freedom ring" for every citizen all across our land.
America's fearless resolve has inspired heroes who defined our national character - from George Washington, John Adams, and Betsy Ross, to Douglass - you know, Fredrick Douglass - (applause) - the great Frederick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, Amelia Earhart, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight Eisenhower, Jackie Robinson, and, of course, John Glenn. (Applause.)
It has willed our warriors up mountains and across minefields. It has liberated continents, split the atom, and brought tyrants and empires to their knees.
Here with us this evening is Earl Morse. After retiring from the Air Force, Earl worked at a VA hospital in Ohio. Earl found that many World War Two veterans could not afford to visit their memorial on the National Mall. So Earl began the very first "Honor Flights," that have now brought over 200,000 World War Two heroes to visit America's monument. Earl, thank you. We salute you. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you, Earl. Thank you.
Our warriors form a hallowed roll call of American patriots, running all the way back to the first souls who fought and won American independence. Today, just as it did 243 years ago, the future of American freedom rests on the shoulders of men and women willing to defend it. We are proudly joined tonight by heroes from each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, including three recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you.
They, and thousands before us, served with immense distinction, and they loved every minute of that service. To young Americans across our country, now is your chance to join our military and make a truly great statement in life. And you should do it. (Applause.)
We will now begin our celebration of the United States Armed Forces, honoring each branch's unique culture, rich history, service song, and distinct legacy. I invite Acting Secretary - please - Mark Esper, Secretary of Defense; and Chairman Dunford, Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - please join me. (Applause.)