Flight of fancy: Trump claims 1775 revolutionary army 'took over airports'
Historical blunder in July 4th speech compounded by mixing up war of 1812 with war of independence
made an awkward blunder during his speech on Independence Day, praising the army, which he said “took over the airports” from the British during the revolutionary war in the late 1700s.
Trump made the mistake during his hour-long speech at the Lincoln memorial in Washington DC as part of his 4th of July “Salute to America” celebrations, which saw him become the first US president in nearly 70 years to address the country on Independence Day.
In a departure from his usual style of rambling, impromptu speeches in which the president lurches between topics at high speed, Trump gave a surprisingly scripted address in which he outlined the history of Independence Day, American achievement in various fields, and then paid tribute to each branch of the military in turn.
During his tribute to the army, Trump said: “In June of 1775, the Continental Congress created a unified army out of the revolutionary forces encamped around Boston and New York … The Continental Army suffered a bitter winter of Valley Forge, found glory across the waters of the Delaware, and seized victory from Cornwallis of Yorktown.
“Our army manned the air, it rammed the ramparts, it took over the airports, it did everything it had to do, and at Fort McHenry, under the rockets’ red glare, it had nothing but victory.”
As listeners were quick to point out, air travel did not occur in the US until early in the 1900s. The Wright brothers, whom Trump praised earlier in his speech, are credited with flying the world’s first plane in 1903.
However, this was not the only historical confusion in this section of Trump’s speech. As astute listeners picked out, the battle of Fort McHenry occurred during the war of 1812, and not the American revolutionary war which took place several decades earlier.