The “Salute to America” extravaganza on the National Mall this July Fourth is already set to be the most over-the-top display of patriotism in American history, and now Donald Trump wants to add one more item to his wish list — tanks.
According to the Washington Post, the request for military vehicles such as Abrams tanks or Bradley Fighting Vehicles to be stationed around the National Mall has left the underfunded National Parks Service scrambling to fill the tall presidential order.
Trump has already requested that the Lincoln Memorial be turned into a VIP access-only area from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to the midpoint of the reflecting pool so his family and friends can watch his address to the country, according to The Inquisitr.
Critics are expressing concern that this jingoistic display could turn into a partisan rally rather than a celebration of the nation.
The CEO of Phantom Fireworks Bruce Zoldan, who is donating a pyrotechnic display to Trump’s celebration alongside Grucci Fireworks, has spoken out about a possibility that the president will turn the event into a rally, Newsweek reported.
“If it turns into a political rally, then I guess it’s probably not the best thing. But if he’s talking about America and celebrating its birthday, I see nothing wrong with it. But we have hopes that it will be a speech about July Fourth, the birthday of America, the celebration of the anniversary of the birth of America,” said Zoldan.
On a more immediate note, critics are focussing on a more expensive concern that can arise with the use of the heavy hardware. According to The Daily Mail, some of the tanks weigh 60 tons or more and have treads that can rip up the city’s asphalt. Members of the Pentagon, have cautioned against this type of machinery.
“Tanks, but no tanks,” the D.C. Council said on Twitter.
— Council of DC (@councilofdc) July 1, 2019
According to the Post, the president has expressed an unusual amount of interest in planning this event himself weighing in on even the most minute of details.
According to anonymous government officials who spoke with the Post the display is anticipated to include, along with the fireworks and tanks, 300 servicemen performing music and drill sequences as well as military aircraft to perform a flyover, including the Navy’s Blue Angels and an F-35.
This event won’t be the first time Trump has keenly pursued a militaristic patriotic display. After returning from a French Bastille Day event in 2017, Trump was consumed with the idea of staging a military parade. The president wanted tanks to roll through the streets of Washington, but, according to CBS News, the Pentagon delayed the parade due to high costs.
The Fourth of July celebration will come just days after Trump’s trip to Asia where he shook hands with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, joked about election interference with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and spoke of what an honor it was to meet with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.