After the overwhelming majority of the Super Bowl champions Philadelphia Eagles team passed on the traditional visit to the White House, Donald J. Trump decided to rescind the invitation. Instead, he issued a statement saying that the 1,000 or so fans who planned to come deserved better and he was going to make sure they got it. The president hosted a “different type of ceremony” where attendees could showcase their patriotism.
According to Deadspin, Trump seemed to be at a loss for words during the “Celebration of America” event when the United States Marine Band began to play “God Bless America” — literally. Calling attention to the apparent irony of the situation, the news outlet reported that he didn’t seem to know the words at all. Deadspin tweeted a video clip where the United States Army Chorus sang the tribute and Trump could be seen chiming in every other line or so.
“Trump unable to remember words to ‘God Bless America’ at replacement event he commissioned to prove his patriotism,” Deadspin tweeted.
In his statement announcing the event, Trump chided the Philadelphia Eagles because “they disagree with their President.” He asserted that the team took issue with the fact that he wants all NFL players to stand for the national anthem with their hands over their hearts in honor of the “great men and women of our military.” Trump’s event was meant to demonstrate what true patriotism is.
The video clip of Trump struggling to finish the song has been making its way around the internet, setting Twitter ablaze. Reactions range from shame to disbelief that Trump didn’t know the words to the three stanza tune written by Irving Berlin. For example, @thekidcanada tweeted, “I know all the words and I’m Canadian.” And @alexandraerin wondered why Trump would choose a song without first asking himself if he knew the words or thought it was a good idea to learn them before the ceremony.
Trump has continued to criticize the national anthem protests started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He has stated openly that any “son-of-a-b**ch” who takes a knee should be fired and implored NFL team owners to punish players who demonstrate in any way during the pre-game ceremony. Trump continued his condemnation of the protesters during the “Celebration of America.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that several team owners admitted to being influenced by Trump. In their depositions taken by Kaepernick’s legal team for his collusion case against the NFL, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said that the president helped convince them to support the recently enacted league ban on anthem protests.