President Donald Trump’s July 4th extravaganza will go down in history for many reasons, not the least of which is his speech.
“The Continental Army suffered a bitter winter at Valley Forge,” President Trump said, “found glory across the waters of the Delaware and seized victory from Cornwallis of Yorktown. Our Army manned the air, it ran the ramparts, it took over the airports, it did everything it had to do, and at Fort McHenry, under the rocket’s red glare, it had nothing but victory. And when dawn came, their star-spangled banner waved defiant.”
This is perhaps the most seemingly dull-witted “he said WHAT?” moment in Trump’s presidency to date. Even an elementary student knows there were no airplanes during the Revolutionary War, and grade school curriculum teaches Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner” after the barrage of Fort McHenry (1814) in the ongoing War of 1812, not during the American Revolution. Teachers everywhere likely cringed at Trump’s faux pas, as well as at his incorrect use of an adjective to describe the banner waving. (An adjective describes a noun; an adverb describes a verb. Thus, the star-spangled banner waved DEFIANTLY, not defiant.)
By now, we’ve all seen the memes featuring George Washington flying over the Delaware. We’ve enjoyed the jokes at Trump’s expense and speculated about Trump’s mental clarity. I’ve laughed as hard as everyone else; however, I don’t think Trump’s latest verbal bloopers are as big a deal as critics are making them out to be. In fact, Trump’s errors reminded me of an incident back in my high school, when a good friend of mine similarly misspoke publicly.
A nun in my high school felt strongly that the senior class should be able to speak in public extemporaneously at any given time and frequently randomly chose someone to stand in front of the class and expound spontaneously on an assigned topic. One of my closest friends was petrified of public speaking; naturally, the nun picked her. I watched my poor friend shaking in her uniform saddle shoes while the nun told her to speak about her childhood. In a barely audible voice, my friend described her home life with her many siblings, her ballet classes, her dogs, and her newly obtained driver’s license. She was doing quite well – until she said she enjoyed playing games at home and running through the paw-paw patch. The moment she realized what she had said, she turned red in embarrassment .
“The paw-paw patch??” I later asked. My friend replied she had been so nervous in front of everyone she didn’t know what she was saying. “The paw-paw patch just slipped out,” she said. I expected her to be teased with the line from the old children’s song “way down yonder in the paw-paw patch,” but she wasn’t. We all knew nobody played in the paw-paw patch; nerves had caused a slip of the tongue. Nerves get the best of everybody sooner or later. The incident was never mentioned again.
A revolutionary airplane is Donald Trump’s paw-paw patch. Whether you believe his July 4th parade was a celebration of America or of himself, the man no doubt wanted his parade and his address to be perfect. Perhaps his nerves were working overtime, and he didn’t know what he was saying. Nonsense slipped out. Who hasn’t bumbled a few conversations or tripped up when trying too hard to impress? Trump, despite what some say, is not a deity, nor is he appointed by God. He’s an imperfect human being like the rest of us. As such, he’s entitled to a few innocent mistakes here and there. His use of adverbs where they don’t belong, and his insinuation that the conflict at Fort McHenry occurred during Washington’s day, were the result of poor writing, editing, and proofreading skills. And yes, President Trump (or someone on his staff) should have caught these errors when he first read the speech (assuming he read it before standing at the podium on the 4th), and he should not have strayed from the teleprompter, but as they say, **** happens.
My anti-Trump friends will surely disagree with me – Trump has said so many crazy things in the past - but I’m giving the man a pass on this one. Flubbing a speech creates hilarious memes, but it’s not enough to condemn a man for.