Whether you love President Donald Trump or loathe him, you should recognize that he has made a sad, serious mistake injecting politics into the Fourth of July celebration on the National Mall in Washington.
In February, the president announced that he was going to take over the annual July Fourth celebration, to create “A Salute to America” and it would feature entertainment, a major fireworks display and “an address by your favorite President, me!”
Since the program has long featured entertainment and fireworks, it was clear the most important element would be the last.
Since then, the president has promising tanks, fighter jet flyovers and the “biggest ever Fireworks” — and his speech. White House staff says the address will be patriotic and will honor the armed services.
However, with President Trump’s re-election campaign underway, the political side of this event will be hard to ignore.
For decades and generations, Americans of all political parties, all colors, all faiths, all genders have congregated on the National Mall for the Fourth of July, wearing funny, patriotic hats and patriotic shirts, and picnicked and played on America’s front yard.
They have been entertained by singers and bands and even the National Symphony Orchestra, heard patriotic songs as well as rock, country and classical music.
The celebration has been remarkably trouble-free, with conflicts and arguments kept to a minimum. Families have had fun, watched a fantastic fireworks display, and then gone home in safety.
Millions more have watched the festivities on television, a show in recent times called “A Capital Fourth.”
It has been a reassuring day, a reminder that we really are all Americans despite our frequent squabbling, that once in a while, we can all get together and be happy.
This should be a day to celebrate our people, not the politicians. We are not upset that this is the brainchild of Donald Trump. We would we writing the same thoughts if Presidents Obama or Bush or Clinton or Reagan had decided to take over the holiday.
Think for a moment about the reaction if County Executive Jan Gardner had announced last year during her re-election campaign that she was taking over the Baker Park Fourth of July celebration and was using the occasion to make a political speech about the greatness of Frederick County. The howls of outrage would still rightfully be echoing in the Baker Park Band Shell.
Making the Fourth of July into the setting for a political speech guarantees more division, more anger, more attacks from Democrats and more angry reaction from Republicans.
We really did not need this, as we start a presidential campaign that will be one of the most brutal in our history. Most Americans were already bracing themselves to be bombarded by TV commercials and social media.
We could certainly have used and welcomed a day of peaceful assembly, a day for making wonderful family memories all while celebrating the timeless ideals of the Declaration of Independence, which was published 243 years ago, explaining why the 13 American colonies were leaving the British Empire.
We haven’t always lived up to all of those thoughts and words, such as “all men are created equal,” but we have always striven toward the ultimate goal, to make America as perfect as we want it to be.