What the President’s Salute to America Meant to Me

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RUSH: I want to go back to the Independence Day presentation by the president on July 4th. It’s being criticized roundly. I don’t know how many of you took the time to try to watch it. It was televised on Fox. None of the major networks other than Fox televised the thing.

Obviously, if you want to talk about bias, they all claimed, “It’s a political speech and we’re not gonna give the Democrats equal time and so we’re not –” What do you mean, equal time? What is the equal time to celebrating America? I asked this question last week. What is the equal time? If there’s a bias here in celebrating Independence Day, if that alone is political — because the president does a speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial and there are to be displays of American armaments, how in the hell is that political to the point that you can’t televise it because the Democrats are not gonna have a response? What would be the response?

Well, we all know what the response would be. A variation of America ain’t great, America ain’t exceptional, and America ain’t worth celebrating. Independence Day is not all it’s cracked up to be. Some of them might go so far as to say America sucks. The president’s being roundly criticized, his speechwriters being roundly criticized for a sophomoric, eighth grade level speech.

Now, I will admit, I watched the speech, and I knew what the president was doing. If I had the opportunity to do a speech that was gonna be televised nationally on the Fourth of July, I would have done something different. This is not a criticism. We all have our different theories about how to reach people. But what the president decided to do was go through a very abbreviated American history from the founding to today.

And he called out some of the great Founding Fathers, some of the great events that led to the Founding Fathers being great: The ratification of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Civil War, any number of things. The critics are saying, “It was eighth grade and sophomoric.” When you stop and think about it, I was watching it, I was thinking actually this is pretty good because it’s stuff that probably isn’t taught much anymore. And it was relatable to everybody.

It was a tribute to all of the branches of the United States military, featuring either armaments such as tanks, Bradley vehicles, helicopters, stealth bombers, fighter jets, the F-22 Raptor, the Blue Angels. And folks, I have to tell you, by the time the Blue Angels flew over, which was one of the finale events, I literally — and I haven’t done this in I don’t know how long. I was standing up, and I literally started choking up.

When I start to cry, I try not to. I don’t know why. I just try to choke it back, not cry. (interruption) No, no, no, no, no. It’s not “real men don’t cry.” It’s not that. I choke it back. I don’t like crying. I couldn’t stop it. When those jets flew over, I felt an immense pride, and I could envision the pilots in those jets, and I started imagining what it must be like for them to be on that team.

I have a long-held belief that something a lot of Americans never get to experience is what it’s like to really be on a championship team, championship level team, at whatever age you are and whatever sport or endeavor you’re in. I mean, people watch World Series celebrations and Super Bowl celebrations, and many of them would give anything to be in the locker room, give anything to be on that team. What does that feel like? A lot of Americans don’t know it.

I submit to you that back in the forties, World War II, the fifties and so forth, I think that there was a time in our nation’s past where most of the citizens felt as close to that as you can feel in terms of being an American, on the team. Not that America was a team competing in sports endeavors, but we are a great nation, and we are in competition around the world, and we are attempting to pursue excellence throughout the various strata of our society.

And I think there used to be a time where that used to be what bound us together. It used to be the one thing that we had in common: We were all Americans. And it was a source of great pride. And it was as close to the feeling you get of being on a championship team. People wanted America to win. It did not mean that everybody else was inferior and lost.

It’s why people like this Brit guy doesn’t understand, none of the left understands Trump’s agenda Make America Great Again. This guy goes off on that. “America first, America last, America all –” they do not understand the concept of national greatness. To them it’s something to be afraid of. It represents nationalism. It represents protectionism. And it represents neither!

It’s none of the sort. It’s simply wanting to maintain a tradition of greatness. There is no other nation in the country, in the world like the United States. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s to be eminently proud of. People used to be, it was close to feeling like being on a championship team. It’s why there was such a vested interest in the Olympics. When an American athlete or team was victorious in the Olympics, we all felt like we were on the team because it was America that was being represented, not a town or a city in the terms of baseball or football teams, but it was the whole country.

And people were uniquely proud of that. And not to the degradation of other nations. Yeah, they were vanquished opponents. But it didn’t mean we didn’t want them, didn’t approve of them, didn’t like them. It was simply celebrating being the best at that moment in time. And I felt it watching this event that the president put on on the Mall, and I got choked up a couple of times during some of the military flybys. But when the Blue Angels came over, when The Battle Hymn of the Republic, when the Army Corps sang that, I lost it.

That song, I remember George W. Bush had Pope Benedict into Washington for a quasi-state visit on his birthday. And they played The Battle Hymn of the Republic. And it moves me every time I hear it. And I’m sitting there choking back tears. And I finally just stopped trying to choke them back and I just let them happen, and it was the feeling of pride, just abject pride. I felt like I was in one of those Blue Angels jets. I felt like I knew the people in them. I felt like they were friends. I felt like that we were all on the same team. And I imagined that they felt a swelling pride within themselves to be part of the event, as did everybody, not just the Blue Angels.

I mention the Blue Angels because they were close to the finale. But the Coast Guard did a flyby, the Air Force did a flyby, the Navy did a flyby before the Blue Angels. There were helicopters, any number of aircraft. And they were all timed to great historical achievements by each of the branches of the U.S. military.

The speech was well constructed, it was chronological, and it was a great history lesson and recounting of how the United States came to be, how we persevered, how we have triumphed, how we have been opposed, the greatness of some of the acts that were required by Americans to survive and triumph and maintain the unity of the nation. (interruption) No, no. I’ll maybe tell you later the tack I would have taken.

I’m not being critical of the president. You always watch things like this, you imagine yourself on the podium, what would I be doing, what would I say, what would my attempts be here. But I couldn’t let it go without mentioning this even though it’s now five days ago or four days ago when this happened.

And there were big crowds and inclement weather kept some of the crowds down in the early phases of it. Then we got media coverage lambasting it, blaspheming it, impugning it, making fun of it, as though it’s somehow childish, somehow nerdy to be proud of your country.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: We’ll start in Arlington, Virginia, with Zellie. Great to have you. I’m glad you called.

CALLER: Thank you, Rush. Two-time caller and very, very honored. I just wanted to say that I was there at the salute to America event July 4th, and it was the most amazing experience. And during the weekend I scoured the different news outlets to read their account. Not one, not one managed to come close to express what it really was until you. You are the only one who came close to expressing what a patriotic event it was.

I was right there by the chain link behind the section where the people were given tickets. So we were right there. It was so much fun. Everyone was talking, and we were poured on by not just slight rain, pouring rain, and we stood, hold our ground. And we were kidding with each other, “Look, we are so happy,” because we are on the front-row seats of the deplorable section that was the public section that goes all the way to the monument and even beyond towards —

RUSH: Let me ask you a question. Did you feel like you were doing something silly? Did you feel like you were being childish? Did you feel like you were engaged in something that was uncool and unnecessary?

CALLER: Not at all. We felt so proud to be American, what it was like to be an American. And we were so proud of Trump. The stories he told about the sacrifices. And they (unintelligible) not only for America, but for other nations! It made you feel like really good. This is what it’s like to be America.

RUSH: Well, that is the key. It’s being portrayed — patriotism itself is laughed at and made fun of by the left. “It’s unnecessary. We’re all Americans, you’re just puffing up your shoulders and puffing up your chest because you think you’re better at loving America than we are. It’s unnecessary. We don’t need this patriotism. It’s embarrassing,” is what they say.

Grab sound bite number 5. This is CNN last Thursday, the Situation Room, right after the president’s speech on the Fourth of July at the Lincoln Memorial. And what we have here is the fill-in host, Brianna Keilar, talking to the senior political analyst, Ryan Lizza. And she asked Ryan Lizza, “So what did you think, Ryan Lizza?”

LIZZA: It reminds you that his speechwriters are not the best in the business. Um, other presidential, you know, speechwriting teams have been a whole lot of letter. George W. Bush had a great speechwriting team if you read those speeches, uh, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama. These speeches are sort of, um, a little low —

KEILAR: They’re rudimentary.

LIZZA: They’re very basic. And sometimes it just seems like he’s reading a Wikipedia page about historical events. It seems like a Schoolhouse Rock version of history or, um, you know, a seventh or eighth grade, uh, research report.

RUSH: See, it’s so beneath them to have to hear what they think are sophomoric versions of the great stories that led to the establishment and the maintaining of this country. And here again I think these people fail or they demonstrate their lack of understanding about the majority of the population and how they hear things. Patriotism is not something that most Americans are ashamed of. And they’re not ashamed to portray it and demonstrate it.

These people are. I mean, these are the people that tell us, the news people, they can’t wear American flags on their lapels. You know why? Well, they’re journalists, and they can’t take sides. They can’t take sides. So when America’s in some hot conflict, well, we have to be journalists, we have to be objective, we have to be open to American cheating. We have to be open to America violating the rules. We can’t be cheerleaders.

No. No. Of course not. The very freedom that allows you journalists to be journalists resides in the United States Constitution. You can’t defend it. You have to mock people who do. You have to claim that it’s eighth grade.

So Trump – look, you accept a challenge. Somebody tells you you’ve got 45 minutes to an hour to tell the story of America to people. What would you do? That’s how Trump chose to do it. That was the theme. Again, look. This is not to criticize the president, don’t anybody misunderstand. I don’t know about you, but when I watched these speeches I imagined if I were there giving it.

And I imagined, if I had this the opportunity to address the nation on the Fourth of July, what would I do? And I would have taken it a completely different way. And it may not have been as good as the president’s, I don’t know. Again, I’m not being critical. We’re all different. But he chose to tell the stories, the highlighted stories in chronological order that were meaningful to him and he thought would be meaningful or would resonate with most Americans.

And again, when you understand — do you know John Silber at Boston University did a survey — this is back in the nineties — survey of American high school history textbooks and found out the single longest reference — and I’m not making this up — in the most popularly used history textbook in high schools across the country — I think this is 1996 or ’97 — the single longest reference to Abraham Lincoln was a paragraph.

And yet there were whole chapters devoted to Bill Clinton. Because what’s happened is that American history has essentially become an excuse to teach current events and then predict the future. You fold climate change in there, you fold any number of current events in, you don’t tie them to history, you ignore it or you impugn it at best. So there’s a whole lot of context you have to keep in mind when listening to a speech.

But it’s the Fourth of July. It’s Independence Day. The speech was all about American independence, how it came to be and how it is defended and then how our freedom is spread to others around the world.