MSNBC's Rachel Maddow schools Trump about the time Nixon tried to hijack July 4th for himself
The host of 'The Rachel Maddow Show' on MSNBC (screengrab)

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow announced that President Donald Trump has officially been granted permission to hold his "Salute to America" rally on the national mall. In 1970, however, former President Richard Nixon attempted to do the same thing in an effort to get more people to support the Vietnam War. It didn't go well.


Dating back to 1909, Washington, DC has hosted July 4th celebrations, but one president in history tried to make it about himself: Richard Nixon.

"We hope 'Honor America Day' will unify us fundamentally in our belief in our wonderful nation," Nixon's people said ahead of the event. All the while, students at Kent State University are being shot for protesting the war.

Maddow read aloud the headline from a report at the time: “Long-hairs clash with crew-cuts at capital rally.”

Reading the article, Maddow revealed what happened to Nixon that July 4th.

"Before the bam of a fireworks display was over, about 20 policemen and an unknown number of young people had suffered cuts, bruises, and bloody noses. D.C. Chief of police Jerry V. Wilson hovered close at the confrontation between the long-hairs and the crew-cuts. The first group started to March, carrying on their shoulders a young man waving a flag of North Vietnam. They approached the advantage point of the other. Some of whom had carried a 'Young Americans for Freedom' sign in the morning’s ceremonies. The crew-cuts flying into the marcher, fists flying and toppled the flag waiver."

A fist came out of the crowd, followed by a can of tear gas. What few audience members that were left fled as the clouds of gas wafted toward their seats.

"As the religious service began and Kate Smith was about to begin 'God bless America,' about 100 of the youths marched through the water in the reflecting pool chanting 'One, two, three, four, we don’t want your bleeping war.' They moved in a body on to the land and tried to make their way towards the dignitaries. The United States Army band in starched uniforms sat beside urns of flowers. The park police on horseback drove the yippees back into the water."

Later that day in honor of the program, another group of people gathered for a smoke-in, toking red, white and blue joints to commemorate the holiday. Some were naked, most were not.

Other than the spotlight trucks and generators and those punched, everyone generally had a lively celebration.

Nixon, Maddow said, was wise enough to stay away. Trump plans to stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and speak to the nation. Given how Washington, DC feels about Trump, it's probably going to get drowned out by boos.

Watch Maddow's commentary below: