Trump's July 4th celebration cost military at least $1.2 million

Reuters

Posted at Jul 10 2019 10:26 AM

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump, along with officials, during Fourth of July Independence Day celebrations at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., U.S., July 4, 2019. Carlos Barria, Reuters

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon said on Tuesday that President Donald Trump's celebration of U.S. Independence Day, which included bringing tanks and equipment to Washington, cost the military at least $1.2 million.

Two Bradley fighting vehicles flanked Trump during his July Fourth speech last week, in which he praised American military might despite having himself avoided the draft during the Vietnam War with bone spurs in his feet.

Trump told stories about each military branch before separate, dramatic flyovers of their respective military aircraft.

Trump, a Republican who was inspired to stage the flashy affair after seeing a similar display in France, dismissed concerns ahead of the ceremony about the expense and militaristic overtones of the event outside the 97-year-old Lincoln Memorial, a symbol of national unity.

"The total cost of the Department's support to the 'Salute to America' event was $1.2 million," the Pentagon said in a statement.

In addition to the cost to the military, the Washington Post reported last week that the U.S. National Park Service had diverted $2.5 million in park entrance fees to help pay for the event.

The actual cost for the Pentagon is likely higher, since the Pentagon said funding for the aircraft demonstrations came from the military services' training budgets.

The Blue Angels (six F-18s) fly overhead as people gather on the National Mall during the Fourth of July event with US President Donald Trump at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC on Thursday. Trump led the celebrations at the Lincoln Memorial for an unprecedented "Salute to America" event that included a televised address, military hardware and a giant fireworks display. Agence France-Presse

It was not immediately clear if all of the $1.2 million was for the cost of transporting equipment like two Abrams tanks and two Bradley fighting vehicles from Fort Stewart in Georgia for the celebration.

The military did not immediately provide a breakdown of the cost. Simply flying the B-2 bomber for an hour costs about $122,000, according to the Air Force.

On Monday, Trump said such an event would take place in the future.

"Based on its tremendous success, we're just making the decision - and I can think we can say we've made the decision - to do it again next year, and, maybe we can say, for the foreseeable future," Trump told reporters.

The July Fourth holiday celebrates the U.S. founders’ declaring independence from Britain in 1776.