Critics of President Donald Trump were flying high Thursday after his jaw-dropping gaffe in his Independence Day speech, in which he said that the brave U.S. Army took over airports during the Revolutionary War.
Trump, clearly reading from a teleprompter, talked about how the Continental Congress in 1775 “created a unified Army out of the Revolutionary Forces encamped around Boston and New York.” The army suffered a “bitter winter of Valley Forge, found glory across the waters of the Delaware and seized victory from Cornwallis of Yorktown,” Trump said. General Cornwallis, of London, was defeated at Yorktown.
Here’s where it goes off the rails: “Our Army manned the air, it rammed the ramparts, it took over airports, it did everything it had to do,” Trump added. “And at Fort McHenry, under the rockets’ red glare, had nothing but victory. When dawn came, the star-spangled banner waved defiant.”
The White House did not provide Trump’s complete prepared speech, so it wasn’t clear where exactly or how the goof-up occurred. The president suddenly zoomed ahead from the Revolutionary War to the War of 1812, which involved Fort McHenry (he called it “McHendry”)— and the “rockets’ red glare” and the “star-spangled banner” of Francis Scott Key’s national anthem. He seemed to be squinting while reading the teleprompter and struggling with some of the words.
The nation’s maiden plane voyage by the Wright Brothers didn’t occur until 1903. Trump referred to that flight elsewhere in his speech.
Twitter foes were doing loop-de-loops over the blunder. “Even back then, there were always flight delays on Colonial Airways, since there were no airplanes,” quipped one wag. Some takedowns involved colonial fighters writing home to lovers about being stranded on airplanes that didn’t yet exist.
The hashtag Revolutionary War Airport Stories was quickly trending on Twitter.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated details about the battle of Yorktown.