Donald Trump gets a July 4 military parade amid backlash from critics

The US President's Salute to America parade features a flyover and tanks in Washington DC

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US President Donald Trump's desire for a military parade to mark Independence Day will become a reality on Thursday, with F-18s flying over Washington DC and tanks thundering down its streets.

Mr Trump's "Salute to America” celebration and parade on July 4 will include two Super Hornet F-18s and two F-35C jets, four Apache helicopters, a B-2 bomber and two F-22 fighters alongside H-60 and H-65 helicopters and an HC-134 aircraft.

Two M1A2 Abrams tanks and other military vehicles have been taken to Washington for the occasion.

After wishing the country a “Happy 4th of July”, Mr Trump hailed the celebration as “one of the biggest” in history.

The parade, conceived when Mr Trump watched Bastille Day celebrations in France with French President Emmanuel Macron in 2017, was initially envisioned for Veterans Day last year.

The idea was rebuffed by former chief of staff John Kelly and former secretary of defence James Mattis.

But new chief of staff Mick Mulvaney allows the US President to "indulge his whims and impulses", The Washington Post says, and the event is a reality.

While the parade is generating enthusiasm among Mr Trump’s support base, the cost of the event and fears of politicising the July 4 holiday are bringing significant backlash.

Some have compared it to a “Make America Great Again” rally, while hundreds are planning to protest against the event and are floating a giant “Baby Trump” balloon over Washington’s mall area, near where Mr Trump will be speaking at the Lincoln memorial.

The cost of the event and concerns of damage that the tanks can create to the memorial are also driving some of the criticism.

The "National Park Service will redirect nearly $2.5 million to help cover costs related to the extravaganza, money that is traditionally assigned to improve parks across the country", The Post reported.

But Mr Trump said the cost would be minimal, without disclosing the amount.

The US military received 5,000 tickets but military chiefs are concerned that the event is being politicised, CNN reported.

The White House insists that Mr Trump’s remarks will not be political.

"It's about saluting America, our flag and our great armed forces,” a US official said.

But the appearance of army generals next to Mr Trump as he addressed a crowd of his supporters is raising eyebrows.

The Republican National Committee, a partisan group, has distributed most of the tickets and party donors received VIP seats.

Retired general Anthony Zinni told The New York Times that the highlight should have been the troops and not the artillery.

“Put troops out there so we can thank them," Mr Zinni said. "Leave the tanks for Red Square."

Others also compared the event with the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing. But defence analysts scoffed at the comparison.

"Abrams tanks are very impressive and cool," tweeted David French of The National Review. "This isn't prep for martial law. It's not Tiananmen Square.

"Kids will love to see them. Many adults will also. It's totally normal in America to have military air shows, etc. No one should be scared by this, truly.”


How recent US presidents marked July 4

Others say the timing of the parade is wrong, with an immigration crisis on the southern border as detention centres are filled with migrants and children.

For the White House, ensuring a high level of attendance and not a repeat of Mr Trump’s scattered-crowd inauguration photos is a main challenge today, as some of the invitations went out only last week.

Thunderstorms and scorching heat in the US capital could impede that goal.