U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has approved a request from the Department of the Interior for military support during Independence Day celebrations for the 244th anniversary of the founding of the United States of America.
Military assets will be used for a variety of Independence Day events on July 4th. A Department of Defense spokesman confirmed the military support in an emailed statement.
The DOD confirmation of a flyover at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, comes after President Donald Trump announced in January that the U.S. would resume the practice of displaying fireworks at the monument to the U.S. presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The last fireworks show at the monument was in 2009 before they were banned out of concern for high fire risks.
In May, Trump announced he would attend the July 4th, Mount Rushmore fireworks display.
“The highlight of this year’s celebration will be our salute to the Great Cities of the American Revolution. The flyovers will begin in Boston and proceed to New York City, Philadelphia and Baltimore,” Mitchell said. “From there they will join other Department of Defense and heritage aircraft in the Salute to America over our nation’s capital.”
Mitchell suggested the flyovers would serve a dual purpose, providing the support for the celebrations while logging training hours pilots and flight crews, helping to defray some of the cost the military incurs for supporting the Independence Day celebrations.
“The flyovers provide an opportunity for DoD to demonstrate the capabilities and professionalism of the United States Armed Forces,” Mitchell said. “Flying hours are a sunk cost for the Department of Defense, and these aircraft and crews would be using these hours for proficiency and training at other locations if they were not conducting these flyovers.”
In all, around 1,700 U.S. service members will work in support of the Independence Day celebrations.
The DOD is still working out the flight schedule for the timing of its flyovers and will announce that schedule ahead of the Independence Day celebrations.