WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump isn’t taking “no tanks” for an answer this year for the Fourth of July.
He said Monday that a display of U.S. military tanks will be part of a special event he’s headlining July 4 in Washington, and an Associated Press photographer saw at least two M1A1 Abrams tanks and two Bradley Fighting Vehicles on flatcars in a railyard at the southeastern edge of Washington.
Military police were guarding the vehicles, which were visible to passers-by on nearby paths.
A U.S. official told the AP that military vehicles to be used in the July 4 event were being stored at the railyard.
Trump had wanted a military parade of tanks and other equipment in the District of Columbia last year after he witnessed a similar parade on Bastille Day in Paris in 2017 . That plan eventually was scuttled, partly because the Pentagon had resisted it over cost, though Trump apparently held on to the idea.
Local officials also had objected because of the damage the heavy armor could do to city streets.
So this year, it appears that the tanks will be on static display, rather than rolling down the streets.
“We’re going to have some tanks stationed outside,” Trump said Monday from the Oval Office, appearing to acknowledge local officials’ earlier concerns.
He offered no specifics on where the vehicles would be located.
“You’ve got to be pretty careful with the tanks because the roads have a tendency not to like to carry heavy tanks,” he said. “So we have to put them in certain areas, but we have the brand new Sherman tanks and we have the brand new Abrams tanks.”
Sherman tanks were the tank most widely used by the U.S. during World War II, but they have been out of service and out of production for decades. The M1A1 Abrams tank is currently the main U.S. battle tank.
Two M1A1 Abrams tanks and two Bradley Fighting Vehicles will be on display as part of Trump’s “Salute to America” event, according to a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the exhibits have not been made public.
The Abrams tanks weigh more than 60 tons apiece and were shipped on railroad freight cars, from Fort Stewart, Georgia, the nearest Army base that has them. The White House declined to release more specific information.
Trump recalled his visit earlier this year to a plant in Lima, Ohio, where M1A1 Abrams tanks are refurbished. The plant had been at risk for closure but remained online due to Trump administration defense spending.
Thursday’s events are also expected to include a military demonstration by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and other aircraft, and Trump plans to deliver a speech at the Lincoln Memorial.
The event is open to the public and free of charge, but a ticket-only area in front of the memorial is being set aside for VIPs, including members of Trump’s family, friends and members of the military, the White House said.
Federal lawmakers, local officials and others have voiced concerns that Trump could alter the tone of what traditionally is a nonpartisan celebration of America’s independence from the British by delivering a political speech. Trump formally announced his bid for re-election in June.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who oversees the National Mall and has helped orchestrate the president’s vision, and other officials have said Trump’s remarks will be patriotic.