The Pentagon is now on the Trump train. Or at least its tanks are.
Several M1 Abrams tanks and other military vehicles arrived in D.C. by train Monday and Tuesday in preparation for President Donald Trump's "Salute to America” on the Fourth of July. Trump has wanted tanks and other weapons involved in either a celebration of himself or America since his Inauguration. But the Pentagon kept turning him down.
This time around, military officials approved Trump’s request. But at nearly 68 tons each, they’re too heavy to crawl over the streets as the Air Force and Blue Angels squadrons fly above. According to a U.S. defense official, the tanks will instead be on “static display.”
The Pentagon hasn’t released a cost for the event, but the bottom line could climb into the millions. Transporting the tanks alone will reportedly cost around $870,000. The display could also damage the Lincoln Memorial, according to the National Parks Service.
Trump even reserved a special VIP area in front of the Lincoln Memorial for dignitaries, family, and friends who want to watch him address the nation from a closer vantage point. And even though the seats are apparently free, they still come with additional security screening and are only being distributed via the White House.
Democrats in Congress have accused Trump of using the over-the-top event to turn a national holiday into a makeshift MAGA rally. He promoted the event during his official 2020 campaign kickoff in Orlando in June. Not since 1991, at the conclusion of Operation Desert Storm, has D.C. hosted a military parade.
Trump’s July Fourth extravaganza is also supposed to face some backlash from veterans planning to dole out thousands of T-shirts emblazoned with the Navy destroyer U.S.S. John McCain to those attending the parade. The White House had ordered the ship to be “out of sight” during Trump’s visit to Japan in May.
Liberal activist groups are also planning to burn flags and soar the notorious “Baby Trump” blimp in protest of the elaborate ceremony.
The president’s love for military celebration was first made apparent in early 2018 when he called for a massive Veterans Day Parade in the nation’s capital complete with Air Force flyovers, tanks, and marching infantrymen. But the U.S. Department of Defense predicted an event of that scale would tear up D.C.’s streets — and cost taxpayers more than $92 million.
Cover image: Military vehicles staged in South East Washington, D.C., to possibly be used for President Trump’s Fourth of July celebration on the National Mall. (Jesse Seidman/VICE News)