On Independence Day, I had the great opportunity of attending President Trump’s “Salute To America” speech. This is the first time I have been able to attend an event where a sitting president addressed the nation. Tens of thousands of people attended, and the crowd was so huge that it was difficult to maneuver the area. I arrived at the wrong entry point and was not sure if I was going to make it to the other side of the reflecting pool in the 20 minutes I had before the gates closed. Even with running and obnoxiously yelling, “Excuse me!” while sliding past other attendees, I had just barely reached the gate before the cutoff time.
While most people attended to celebrate our nation’s birthday and hear the president speak, some came to protest the event. Before the speech, I ran into a group of about one hundred protesters near the Washington Monument. There it was: the robot of Trump tweeting from his golden throne that The Hill had promised earlier. His hat read, “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN // IMPEACH ME.” A cage sat on stilts with a balloon of the president inside. On it were signs that said, “CAGE TRUMP NOT BABIES,” “INVESTIGATE TRUMP TAXES,” and “IMPEACH.” Some protesters were yelling, “Love Trumps hate” while holding a variety of signs. One, in the shape of a female hand giving the middle finger, read, “SHE’S NOT MY TYPE,” in reference to the recent E. Jean Carroll fiasco. Other signs said, “MAKE AMERICA LAWFUL AGAIN,” “Another day Another WTF?,” and “FAKE PRESIDENT SAD!” A T-shirt read, “CLOSE THE CAMPS.”
I, personally, found Trump’s speech to be a beautiful tribute to the men and women who have contributed in making the United States the best country in the world. The Blue Angels flying overhead and then circling back to fly over a second time was the most thrilling part of the evening. I was completely speechless. The whole evening was perfectly planned.
Afterward, I passed the protest site again on my way out. I noticed there was a new development — a baby Trump balloon. I asked its owner what message he was trying to convey. He responded, “That Donald Trump is a tweeting, petulant child.” I saw another protester and asked him what he thought of the speech. He replied, “I thought it was really interesting to hear a draft-dodger give such a scripted tribute to the military and a lesson in a history that he obviously knows nothing about.” When asked if he liked the speech overall, he replied, “I think the people who wrote it did a good job of writing something with words that he was capable of reading. So, in that respect, yes — a very nice speech.”
It does not seem like the protesters were angry about what the president said, but rather, they were angry that Donald Trump is our president. Yet the protests were peaceful and safe, which I appreciated. Everyone present was exercising their First Amendment rights, an action that is, in a sense, a form of celebrating being an American. Even with the rain and the noisy protests, it turned out to be a great night.