Donald Trump delivered his long-touted July 4 speech at the Lincoln Memorial, breaking with the long tradition of previous presidents who chose to stay out of Independence Day celebrations in the nation’s capital. Only Richard Nixon in 1970 attempted to deliver an address in Washington D.C. on July 4, according to an article from CBS News. But Nixon delivered his speech on tape, as anti-war protesters battled police on the National Mall.
Trump’s speech, however, was delayed by rain, as the president was standing behind a towering plexiglass barrier while reading from a teleprompter, mostly listing numerous historical accomplishments of the United States military. Trump generally steered clear of the inflammatory and partisan rhetoric that has marked his campaign speeches, according to a Los Angeles Times account of the July 4 event.
But alert Twitter users caught one bizarre gaffe by Trump during the speech, in which he seemed to get his time periods of American history mixed up, describing the Battle of Valley Forge during the Revolutionary War, but saying that the army at that time “took over the airports.”
“The Continental Army suffered a bitter winter of Valley Forge, found glory across the waters of the Delaware, and seized victory from Cornwallis of Yorktown,” Trump said, as quoted by CNN correspondent Daniel Dale via Twitter. “It took over the airports, it did everything it had to do.”
— Terri2uus ???????????????????????? (@terri2uus) July 4, 2019
The surrender of British General Charles Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia — the event that ended the American Revolution — took place on November 13, 1781, according to History.com. But the Wright Brothers, inventors of the airplane, did not make the world’s first self-powered flight until 1903.
History’s first airport, College Park Airport College Park, Maryland — which has since become known as “the cradle of aviation” — opened six years later, in 1909, according to the Airport Technology site.
Trump apparently is aware of the Wright Brothers’ accomplishment, because he mentioned them in the same speech, as he listed what he said were the great achievements of Americans in history.
Trump also listed the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell as an example of “the quest for American greatness.” But Bell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and emigrated to Canada with his parents in 1870 at age 23, according to The Canadian Encyclopedia.
Bell became a naturalized American citizen in 1882, six years after his invention of the telephone, according to Wired Magazine.
Twitter users quickly jumped all over Trump’s puzzling “took over the airports” remark, with one commenting, “I think his speech writer just dropped it in there to see if Trump would catch it in time, before saying it…. Gotcha.”