President Donald Trump will hold his “Salute to America” event in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, debuting his own take on Fourth of July celebrations.
Despite the high costs of the parade, fears of damage caused by heavy military vehicles and the authoritarian connotations of such a spectacle, Trump is plowing full speed ahead with his “great celebratory military parade.”
Nonetheless, his critics have been in full voice. Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren added her condemnation of the event on Wednesday night, telling a CNN reporter that the “Salute to America” is really more of a salute to Trump.
VIP guests at the event—many of whom are Republican operatives and big-ticket donors to the party—will be seated in a cordoned off area around the Lincoln Memorial. From here, they will be able to watch in comfort as jets, bombers and helicopters roar over Washington.
They will be right in front of Trump as the president delivers his speech. Though Trump has said his address will honor the U.S. military, it would be uncharacteristic if he did not use the opportunity to score political points, leaning on the military to boost his image while denigrating his opponents.
All things considered, Warren argued that the public should not be footing the bill for the “Salute to America.”
“Trump is handing out tickets to his big donors,” she told CNN reporter MJ Lee. “That’s a campaign event. And if he’s going to do a campaign event, then it should be paid for by his campaign contributions.”
Trump and his team have been evasive on the estimated cost of the spectacle, with the president suggesting the event will be cheap because the U.S. already owns the military vehicles involved.
However, the National Park Service has seen around $2.5 million of its funds from entrance and recreation fees allocated to cover costs of the event, The Washington Post reported. This is in addition to the $2 million usually earmarked for Fourth of July celebrations on the National Mall.
The aerial portion of the event alone—which will feature aircraft such as F-35 fighter jets and a B-2 stealth bomber—could cost $2 million more alone, according to an analysis conducted by the Post based on Pentagon flight costing figures.
Indeed, when Trump first suggested a Washington military parade in 2018, defense officials warned it could cost as much as $92 million, $50 million of which would have to come from the Pentagon. The costing meant the plan was put on hold, though ultimately only delayed for a year and downsized from the Bastille Day-style parade that Trump so desires.
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