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1,700 troops will support Trump 'Salute to America' celebrations July 4: Pentagon

The Pentagon announced Saturday that roughly 1,700 service members will be involved in the federal government’s upcoming July 4 celebrations. 

Secretary of Defense Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Appeals court rules using Pentagon funding for border wall illegal | Esper visits NATO after Trump announces Germany drawdown | Russian intel unit reportedly offered bounties for killing coalition troops in Afghanistan Trump administration to extend troops at the border through 2021 Overnight Defense: Army to drop photos from soldier records to reduce racial bias | House defense bill backs B pandemic preparedness fund | Bill targets potential troop drawdowns MORE approved a request from the Department of the Interior for defense officials to “support to the 2020 Salute to America,” on July 4, according to a Saturday statement.

Trump’s 2019 expanded Independence Day commemorations were dubbed a “Salute to America.” The celebrations this year will also bare this name.

This year’s celebrations will include a flyover of Mount Rushmore, in addition to an “areal salute” in cities that “played roles in the American Revolution,” beginning in Boston and proceeding to New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., according to the Saturday statement.

The Defense Department will also “provide aerial, musical and ceremonial support” for the commemoration.

The Pentagon said Saturday that the flyovers are “an opportunity for DoD to demonstrate the capabilities and professionalism of the United States Armed Forces.”

Independence Day celebrations last year included flyovers by the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, B-2 stealth bomber, and F-22 Raptor, USA Today reported. Trump’s expanded Fourth of July celebrations last year doubled the cost of previous years, using $13 million in taxpayer funds, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

The 2019 event included a new fireworks show, a military display and a speech from the president on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  

Lawmakers have asked the president to cancel the Fourth of July event this year amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Ten lawmakers representing the National Capital region sent a letter to Esper and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on Tuesday expressing concerns over the event sparking an outbreak. 

“Given the current COVID-19 crisis, we believe such an event would needlessly risk the health and safety of thousands of Americans,” the lawmakers wrote. The letter was spearheaded by Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and signed by Sens. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinGOP lawmakers voice support for Israeli plan to annex areas in West Bank Trump to host 4th of July event despite pleas from lawmakers to cancel Senators call on Trump administration to simplify PPP loan forgiveness process MORE (D-Md.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenSenate passes sanctions bill targeting China over Hong Kong law Trump’s 4th of July celebration double the cost from previous years: study Trump to host 4th of July event despite pleas from lawmakers to cancel MORE (D-Md.) and House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerClyburn threatens to end in-person coronavirus committee hearings if Republicans won’t wear masks Democratic leaders press GOP to update Voting Rights Act 189 House Democrats urge Israel to ‘reconsider’ annexation MORE (D-Md.), and others.

“Further, this event would come at the cost of millions of taxpayer dollars while we are facing an unprecedented economic downturn due to the pandemic,” they added.

The White House said in a statement this week that “there will be an Independence Day celebration this year and it will have a different look than 2019 to ensure the health and safety of those attending.”

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