Donald Trump Mocked for Saying the Continental Army Took Over the Airports in 1781—122 Years Before Wright Brothers' First Flight

President Donald Trump managed to stay largely on-script and off politics in his "Salute to America" address on Thursday, despite fears to the contrary from critics and supporters alike.

Trump's speech took the audience through historic and cultural highlights of America's 243-year history, lauding the revolutionaries that threw off the British yoke and created the new nation in 1776.

But for all his patriotic passion, the president got certain details wrong. The most obvious—and the one which set social media buzzing—was his apparent suggestion that airports were a key strategic target for Continental Army as it took the fight to the British in 1781.

During his tribute to the army, Trump explained its formation and early difficult years. Turning to the famous American victory at the Siege of Yorktown, the president said the army "manned the air, it rammed the ramparts, it took over the airports, it did everything it had to do."

Social media users were quick to note that air travel did not develop in the U.S. until the early 1900s, with the Wright brothers first taking to the air in 1903. Trump appears to have forgotten this, considering he mentioned the brothers' achievements earlier in his speech.

Though supporters praised the address, the president stumbled over his words several times and appeared to be struggling to read the teleprompter, CNN reported.

The air travel gaffe was not his only historical error, The Guardian noted. When first discussing the Continental Army, he incorrectly suggested that it was named after revolutionary general and eventual first President George Washington.

He also seemed to credit the Continential Army with victory at the battle of Fort McHenry, an engagement that did not take place until the war of 1812, some 33 years later. Given he was rapidly moving through the country's military history, his apparent confusion may have simply been a case of bad pacing, but that didn't stop observers mocking the president for historical illiteracy.

For the most part, the speech was not as divisive as Trump's opponents and the mainstream media had feared. He did not use the platform to attack his critics or campaign for the 2020 election, and the military hardware that had been such a big talking point were displayed fairly inconspicuously.

Nonetheless, the jingoistic address was far from universally acclaimed. Indeed, many critics still questioned why Trump even needed to give the speech, given that no U.S. president has spoken at Fourth of July celebrations for almost 70 years.

Other highlights included Trump vowing to "plant the American flag on Mars," and encouraging young people to join the military, which he said would "make a truly great statement in life." This comment also brought derision online, with people noting the president's history of spurious draft deferments during the Vietnam War and his multiple offensive comments about veterans and military service.

Donald Trump, Fourth of July, airports, mocked
President Donald Trump waves as he leaves after attending the "Salute to America" Fourth of July event at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., July 4, 2019. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty
Donald Trump Mocked for Saying the Continental Army Took Over the Airports in 1781—122 Years Before Wright Brothers' First Flight | Politics