President Donald Trump delivered an Independence Day address honoring American veterans — hundreds of whom came from the Washington, D.C. area to attend the “Celebrate Freedom Rally” at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
“America is a land rich with heroes,” said Trump at the event, which included wounded warriors who are patients at the Walter Reed Medical Center.
During his speech, the president personally saluted World War II veteran Harry Miller for his lifelong service and wounded warrior Luis Avila. Miller enlisted in the reserves at 15, even though he was not old enough to serve. He fought in Europe and in The Battle of the Bulge. Avila, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was on a fifth deployment when he was wounded, losing his leg, during an intelligence reconnaissance mission.
“We all bleed the same red blood,” said Trump, promising an adoring crowd that America would “win again.”
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Choirs performed “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and other hymns and debuted a song with the lyrics “make America great again” — Trump’s campaign slogan.
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President Donald Trump arrives to speak during the Celebrate Freedom event at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, Saturday, July 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
“Since the signing of the Declaration of Independence 241 years ago, America always affirmed that liberty comes from our creator. Our rights are given to us by God, and no earthly force can ever take those rights away. That is why my administration is transferring power out of Washington and returning that power back where it belongs to the people,” Trump said.
“Our religious liberty is enshrined in the very first amendment in the Bill of Rights. The American founders invoked our creator four times in the Declaration of Independence," said Trump. "Benjamin Franklin reminded his colleagues at the Constitutional Convention to begin by bowing their heads in prayer. Inscribed on our currency are the words: ‘In God We Trust.’”
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Evangelical megachurch First Baptist Dallas sponsored the event. First Baptist Pastor Robert Jeffress, who was a strong backer of Trump, said in a statement: “We have in President Donald J. Trump one of the great patriots of our modern era and a president who cherishes the sacrifice and service of those in our armed forces.”
Overwhelming support from evangelical voters helped propel Trump to victory in 2016. ”The fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House, but I’m president and they’re not,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.