WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump raised eyebrows during his Fourth of July celebration speech for a reference to an apparent seizure of “airports” by American soldiers during the Revolutionary War in 1775.
Trump later attributed the historically inaccurate gaffe to the weather and a faulty teleprompter.
Honoring the U.S. military was the highlight of Trump’s “Salute to America” event. Throughout his speech, he paused to honor all five branches of the military.
“Together we are part of one of the greatest stories ever told,” he began, reading from a teleprompter.
As the engines of fighter jets and bombers boomed over the National Mall, Trump’s message was heard loud and clear: “The spirit of American independence will never fade, never fail, but will reign forever and ever and ever.”
As he went on to honor the “story” of America, Trump spoke of history and heroes, but his retelling of the nation’s history took a puzzling turn when he praised the Continental Army of 1775 for their great victory in “taking over the airports.”
Recounting the formation of a unified army by the Continental Congress in June of 1775, Trump said American soldiers eventually seized “victory from Cornwallis of Yorktown.” British Gen. Charles Cornwallis lost the battle at Yorktown, but he didn’t live there.
"Our Army manned the air,” Trump continued. “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,” he continued. “And when dawn came, their star-spangled banner waved defiant."
The historic misinterpretation took the internet by storm, instantly sparking memes and a multitude of jokes. On Friday, Trump blamed the gaffe on complications with his teleprompter that day because of the rainstorm that pelted Washington at the height of the celebration.
“Actually right in the middle of that sentence, it went out,” Trump told reporters from the White House on Friday, the Boston Globe reported.
“And that’s not a good feeling, when you’re standing in front of millions and millions of people on television.”
While technical difficulties might explain Trump’s misstatements, it remained unclear how he connected the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 in the same sentence when referencing the battle of Fort McHenry, and then going on to mention the Civil War and World War I.
Some speculated that it was an attempt at highlighting all the great U.S. military achievements throughout the country’s history, but Trump opted not to shed further light on the issue Friday.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.