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Trump thanks military members during D.C. Independence Day event

By
Andrew V. Pestano
The annual Independence Day fireworks display lights up the Washington, DC skyline as seen from Top of the Town in Arlington, Virginia on July 4, 2017. The fireworks celebrated the 241st anniversary of the United States' Declaration of Independence from England. Photo by Erin Schaff/UPI
The annual Independence Day fireworks display lights up the Washington, DC skyline as seen from Top of the Town in Arlington, Virginia on July 4, 2017. The fireworks celebrated the 241st anniversary of the United States' Declaration of Independence from England. Photo by Erin Schaff/UPI | License Photo

July 5 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump thanked members of the U.S. military for their "patriotism, virtue, and courage" at an Independence Day event in Washington, D.C.

Trump made the comments prior to a fireworks display during the Fourth of July Military Appreciation Event in which a picnic was held at the South Lawn of the White House on Tuesday.

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Trump, first lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and second lady Karen Pence honored a U.S. servicemember from each military branch.

Those honored at the event were Marine First Lt. Michael Pence, the son of the second couple; U.S. Army Capt. Jean Gwon, who was joined by husband Capt. James Folwell; Marine Sgt. Yannick Tumukunde; U.S. Navy Lt. Comdr. Allison Maybrey, who was joined by husband Lt. Comdr. Michael Maybrey; U.S. Air Force we have Tech. Sgt. Ralph Bunnell, who was joined by wife Patricia; and U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Tony Franklin.

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"Melania and I truly appreciate and celebrate America's independence with those who courageously defend our country -- the men, women and families of the United States military," Trump said during a speech. "Each of you here today represents that rare combination of patriotism, virtue, and courage that our citizens have always -- and I mean always -- admired and that our enemies have always feared. At this moment, your brothers and sisters in arms are posted around the globe, fighting our enemies and standing watch to protect our nation. They're fighting for us. We are thanking them, praying for them, and saluting them for their selfless sacrifice."

Trump said there could not be a greater privilege than to serve the U.S. servicemembers as their commander in chief.

"I pledge my unwavering support for you, for your families, and your missions. I will always have your back. I will always, under all circumstances -- you'll be coming back here, and I will always have your back," Trump added.

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Events throughout Washington, D.C., included the National Independence Day Parade, a Founding Fathers re-enactment and the A Capitol Fourth concert, which was hosted by actor John Stamos and featured musicians including The Beach Boys, The Blues Brothers and Kellie Pickler.

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