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In July 4 speech, Trump explains why he thinks America is great

President Trump took the stage at his “Salute to America” event this evening. Although there was some apprehension over his speech would be political, his remarks primarily focused on American history and why he thinks the U.S. is as strong as it’s ever been. Judy Woodruff brings us some of what he had to say, followed by reaction from Yamiche Alcindor, who reports from the National Mall.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    We return now to the Fourth of July celebrations under way now on the National Mall.

    President Trump took the stage at the Lincoln Memorial just a short time ago.

    Here's a bit of what he had to say.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Hello, America.

  • President Donald Trump:

    As we gather this evening in the joy of freedom, we remember that all share a truly extraordinary heritage.

    Together, we are part of one of the greatest stories ever told, the story of America. It is the epic tale of a great nation, whose people have risked everything for what they know is right and what they know is true.

    It is the chronicle of brave citizens who never give up on the dream of a better and brighter future. And it is the saga of 13 separate colonies that united to form the most just and virtuous republic ever conceived.

    On this day 243 years ago, our founding fathers pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to declare independence and defend our God-given rights.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Our Yamiche Alcindor is still on the National Mall in Washington.

    She joins us again.

    Yamiche, we know it's raining. That explains the water and that shield in front of the president.

    Tell us what more he's saying.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, the president is really talking about the history of America.

    He is talking about American inventors. He's talking about the ending of slavery and civil rights. He's also said that the nation is stronger today than it's ever been, hinting a little bit at his famous slogan, "Make America great again."

    But he hasn't been overtly political.

    That being said, his critics still point out that the Republican National Committee got tickets to this event, while the Democratic National Committee did not. So the people close to the president are still the people with the best views of him, though it is open to the public.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But, Yamiche, so far, you're saying the speech has been directed to American history, speaking about the reasons that we celebrate on this day?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Exactly, Judy.

    The president has really stuck to talk to you about what makes America great in his mind. And that is all the different things that America can do. He also said that he'd like to put the American flag on Mars someday.

    And he's been talking about astronauts and, really, in some way, celebrating the history of America. So he hasn't been talking about Democrats or Republicans. He hasn't been talking about his campaign. Instead, he's really been inspiring people here to clap, because he's been talking about just great American heroes on both sides of the aisle, including nonpartisan figures.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, quickly, Yamiche, we know the president was going to be introducing military leaders there on the stage with him. Is he still planning to do that?

    We know that that is an unusual aspect to this Fourth of July celebration.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, one of the most unprecedented things the president did was make this speech next to military equipment and next to military leaders.

    He did point out and talk about each branch of the military. He also said that he's looking forward to creating the Space Force and getting that off the ground.

    So, the president has been talking about military leaders. Critics say that this is the stuff of dictators. The president, though, is saying that this is really his way of celebrating the military.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yamiche Alcindor, reporting from the Lincoln Memorial, covering President Trump and the celebration there.

    Thank you, Yamiche.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Thanks, Judy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And on the "NewsHour" online: We hope you're able to enjoy family, friends and food today, and we have tips on how to prepare, cook and clean up your summer feast safely.

    We are a full-service news program.

    That and more is on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour.

    And that is the "NewsHour" for tonight on this Fourth of July. I'm Judy Woodruff.

    We hope you will join us again tomorrow evening with David Brooks and Karen Tumulty, sitting in for Mark Shields.

    For all of us at the "PBS NewsHour," have a great Fourth, and we will see you soon.

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