President Donald Trump marked the Fourth of July in a speech celebrating American history from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, but one remark has critics scratching their heads.
Trump recalled the creation of the Continental Army in 1775 and praised their heroics at Valley Forge and Yorktown. But then Trump took an interesting turn, seemingly going off script.
“Our army manned the air,” he said. “It rammed the ramparts, it took over the airports, it did everything it had to do. And at Fort McHenry, under the rockets’ red glare, it had nothing but victory.”
“And when dawn came, their Star Spangled Banner waved defiant,” he added.
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During his July 4th speech, President Donald Trump says American forces “took over the airports” during the US War of Independence in the late 18th century.
Planes were not used in warfare until the 20th century. pic.twitter.com/pxhYVdfGz4
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) July 5, 2019
But there are a few problems with Trump’s account of the heroics of George Washington’s Continental Army. The Revolutionary War took place more than 120 years before the Wright Brothers had their first successful flight — and the use of planes in wartime wouldn’t become commonplace until World War I.
The Continental Army was not named after George Washington, as Trump claimed, but instead took its name from the Continental Congress that created it.
Trump’s message on the origins of the Star Spangled Banner at Fort McHenry is mostly true, but the Battle of Baltimore that inspired Francis Scott Key’s song took place in 1814, not during the Revolutionary War as Trump’s speech seems to suggest. Construction of the fort wasn’t started until 1798, long after the Continental Army had been disbanded and Congress had created the service that would involve into today’s United States Army.
Aside from the historical errors, Trump’s speech may have surprised some of his critics. The president’s remarks bore little resemblance to his more off-the-cuff campaign rally speeches and appeared to stay largely on script and avoided overtly political statements some feared he would make.