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Trump to Stress Unity at Independence Day Speech

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump, arrives speaks to an Independence Day celebration in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, Thursday, July 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Hundreds of millions of people coming together as one nation will be the theme of President Donald Trump's Independence Day speech as the country celebrates its 243rd birthday.

While U.S. presidents have traditionally sat back to watch Americans celebrate independence in their own way, Trump turned this year's July 4th holiday into what he calls a "Salute to America." The event is being held at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington -- complete with a display of Army tanks, a military jet flyover, a concert and, of course, fireworks, despite steamy weather and storms.

"As we gather this evening in the joy of freedom, we remember that we all share a truly extraordinary heritage. Together, we are one of the greatest stories ever told," Trump plans to say, according to excerpts of his speech released Thursday afternoon.

There were concerns the president would turn the nation's birthday party into a political event and a speech outlining what he feels are his accomplishments as president.

Many who live in Washington are angry that the Pentagon and security officials have commandeered areas of the National Mall where the public usually gathers for celebrations.

Others are upset that the White House is has handed out tickets for seats to the president's speech only to Republicans loyal to the president.

Anti-Trump protesters were highly visible along the mall all day, including the now familiar blimp depicting Trump as an angry baby in a diaper. Vendors sold mini-Trump baby balloons on wooden sticks for demonstrators to wave.

Protesters included military veterans who say they resent someone who never served in the military exploiting their service for his own satisfaction. Debates between protesters and Trump supporters all along the mall were said to be civil.

But Trump has tweeted that Thursday's events will be "The show of a lifetime!" and that the patriotism and good feelings he hopes people will feel are more valuable than the millions of dollars being spent on the outdoor party.

The cost "will be very little compared to what it is worth," he tweeted.

The Fourth of July festivities commemorate America's declaration of independence from Britain in 1776.

Those not in Washington Thursday are celebrating Independence Day around the county with parades, picnics and fireworks.

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