Joe and Lisa Scott, from Satellite Beach, Fla., did not plan their trip to the District specifically for the Fourth of July but decided that the celebration would be a nice addition to their vacation.
“That was until the whole Trump fiasco,” Joe Scott said.
For the past few weeks, the couple had been following the news about President Trump’s “Salute to America,” which is expected to include a military aircraft flyover, a display of two M1A2 Abrams battle tanks and other military vehicles on the Mall, a speech by the president and two fireworks displays.
Joe Scott, 64, said he did not “appreciate the militarization of it all,” and Lisa Scott was beginning to think Code Pink’s plan to protest the events sounded appealing. As of Wednesday, the couple had not decided whether they would attend the festivities.
But C.J. Carwell, a store manager at the Claire’s jewelry shop at Tysons Corner Center, was visibly excited to learn about Trump’s plans. Carwell, whose father, uncles and brother have served in the military, said she grew up around symbols of the armed forces.
“Oh, I think people will enjoy [the tanks],” she said. “They’re big, they’re exciting. And seeing something that’s never been done? That’ll be interesting.”
Carwell lives in Northern Virginia and will celebrate July 4 in her own neighborhood. Though she said she’s not a supporter of the president, she plans to watch the events at the Mall on television.
On the eve of Independence Day, as Bradley Fighting Vehicles were on display near the Lincoln Memorial, residents and visitors to the D.C. area had mixed reactions about the revamped festivities. Some criticized what they said was the politicization of a national holiday, citing the president’s speech and the $2.5 million the National Park Service will spend on the event. Others think the additional events are a good idea. And despite all the media coverage and criticism, many were not even aware of the changes.
Andre and Susan Weiglein are from a suburb of San Francisco, but both grew up in the D.C. area. Along with their two sons, they planned to spend July 4 in the District. Andre Weiglein, 54, said he had not heard much about what Trump has planned for the day, but he thinks the concept is great.
“I want my kids to see the fireworks I grew up seeing,” Susan Weiglein, 52, said.
For most residents, Trump’s plans will not affect their celebrations. They will still eat hot dogs and hamburgers at family barbecues. They will still go to friends’ pools to cool off on a day that promises temperatures in the low 90s. And many will attend fireworks displays in the suburbs.
At Tysons Corner, various mall-dwellers on Wednesday morning said they had not heard about the changes to the celebration in the District.
Jim Reichert, 76, was one of few who had.
“It stinks,” the retiree said, setting down his copy of the New York Times in a booth outside the AMC theater. Reichert, who has lived in Northwest since 1972, said he was “shocked” when he learned about the president’s plan to display tanks on the Mall. He said he has occasionally visited the Mall on July 4 but does not plan to do so this year.
“Bringing the military into what’s traditionally been a very peaceful celebration. . . . It has overtones of authoritarian governments, like North Korea or the Soviet Union,” the former accountant said.
Sabari Cetin, 57, also disapproves of the expanded military presence in the Independence Day celebrations. The engineer, who is visiting from Chicago, said he was reconsidering his plans to spend Thursday evening at the Capitol watching the National Symphony Orchestra.
“Tanks rolling through, I mean, oh my God. That’s not America,” said Cetin, who immigrated from Turkey to the United States in 1984. Rocking his crying toddler on his hip, Cetin added that he did not want his 1 ½-year-old son exposed to “military displays of things.”
For the past five years, Judi Lambart has celebrated the Fourth in different ways. Some years, she’s walked down to the Mall. Other years, she’s watched the fireworks from her home.
This year, she said, she’s getting out of town.
Lambart, 66, is heading to Michigan, where she is from originally, to spend time with her family. Sitting near the fountain at Dupont Circle on Wednesday, she tried to think of a nice word to describe the changes in the nation’s celebration.
She said she couldn’t.
The fireworks and festivities have always been fantastic, Lambart said. They couldn’t be better.
“I don’t see why someone feels the need to trump that,” she said.