Trump Heads to Mt. Rushmore Amid Controversy

President Donald Trump Friday heads to Mount Rushmore, where he will headline U.S. Independence Day celebrations featuring fireworks for the first time in more than a decade at the national park in South Dakota.“It’s going to be a fireworks display like few people have seen. It’s going to be very exciting,” Trump said during a White House event Thursday.FILE – FILE- President Donald Trump and Governor Kristi Noem.Americans urged to stay homeAs the nation witnessed a spike in new coronavirus cases, with an 80 percent increase in the past two weeks, health officials urged Americans to stay home on July 4 – a holiday usually celebrated with big parties and town parades.“The safest choice this holiday is to celebrate at home,” the Oregon Health AuthorityFireworks explode over Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol, along the National Mall in Washington, during the Fourth of July celebration, July 4, 2018.Presidential preferenceAmerican presidents typically have celebrated July 4 based on their personal preferences and many have done so in ways that are “very much connected to what’s happening at that moment”, said Matthew Costello, a historian with the White House Historical Association, in an interview with VOA.   James K. Polk, the nation’s 11th president and the one who pursued the expansion of the continental United States through wars in the mid-19th century, celebrated with military parades and other ways that were very much about patriotism, said Costello. “It was about the war effort, but it was also about continuing the fight for what he believed was in the best interest of the country.”Trump is not the first American president to commemorate Independence Day in a pandemic. During the Spanish Flu in 1918, Woodrow Wilson reviewed a parade that marched on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, said Costello.Wilson missed the 4th of July in 1919, as he was returning from the Paris Peace Conference. Many historians, including John M. Barry, professor at the Tulane University School of Public Health and author of The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History, believe Wilson himself fell ill with the flu around that time. 

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