President Donald J. Trump and first lady Melania Trump joined more than 2,000 military personnel, veterans, and first responders at Friday’s “A Salute to Our Armed Services” Presidential Inaugural Ball — one of three official balls celebrating the new president.
“I just want to thank you on behalf of Melania and myself — and really millions and millions of people all over the world for the job you have done,” said the president to servicemen and women in their formal dress uniforms, who burst into cheers and shouts of support throughout Trump’s remarks.
“You’re amazing people, you’re amazing people,” he said. “I like you for a lot of reasons, I also like you for the fact that you all voted for me.”
The president also spoke to military personnel serving in Afghanistan. The satellite feed had a 10-second delay that led to pauses and Trump and a soldier speaking over each other, but it was a situation that the president handled with aplomb.
“That’s OK, go ahead,” he would say, then turn with a knowing smile to the folks in the audience, as if they were all in on it. Another time he joked that the 10-second delay was great. “It gives me time to think about my answer.”
Trump told the troops in Afghanistan: “We are with you a thousand percent. Keep fighting. We’re going to win. We’re going to win. I have your back. We’re going to make America great again.”
Watch President Donald J. Trump speak with troops deployed to Afghanistan:
The highpoint of the evening was signaled by the Josh Weathers Band performing the Dolly Parton song that was a worldwide hit for Whitney Houston, “I Will Always Love You.” As the music began, the first couple stepped up away from the platform and began to dance together.
It was simple. It was elegant. It was ritualistic, as the new chief danced in front of his warriors and his warriors recorded it all on their cellphones.
As the song continued, Vice President Michael R. Pence and his wife Karen came out onto the stage. Trump heard the cheers and looked over to his junior partner and the second couple began their own slow dance in front of the warriors.
Soon enough, there were more people on the circular stage that jetted out into the great hall of the National Building Museum, including the president’s four older children — Donny Jr., Eric, Ivanka and Tiffany, with their spouses and dates — and a soldier, a Marine, an airman, and a Navy sailor.
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Catherine Cartmell danced with the president. Staff Sgt. Jose Medina, an “Old Guard Soldier” of the 3rd Infantry Regiment, danced with the first lady. Air Force Master Sgt. Tiffany Bradbury, Air Force Headquarters, danced with the vice-president and the Marine Corps Sgt. Angel Rodriguez, Marine Barracks Washington, danced with the second lady–all to the cheers of the warriors crushed around the clear barrier that circled the circular stage.
Now, the warriors and the chief and his family mingled, bonding through dance.
The president is not often upstaged, but he was this time by the soldier named Medina.
“I was chosen by my leadership because they were looking for someone with the confidence to represent the United States Army,” Medina said.
Confidence? That is one word for an NCO, who led the first lady with authority and twirled the former model at least three times.
Medina told Breitbart News the president was pleased with the staff sergeant’s take charge attitude. “He was congratulating me, like he did not believe that I would actually pull that one off.”
Bradbury told Breitbart News she had not practiced with the vice-president, but she had heard he is an accomplished dancer. “He did a great job leading. We kept it simple. But it was the honor of a lifetime.”
The other entertainment at the ball was legendary showman Tony Orlando. Orlando, who had hits and his own variety TV show in the 1970s with the act “Tony Orlando and Dawn,” wowed the crowd with his own songs, such as “Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” and “Knock Three Times,” as well as other hit songs from his era.
“It’s surreal, really,” Orlando told Breitbart News. “I have known the president for more than 40 years, through all the times in his life, and he has always been great to me and my family.”
Orlando said, “I feel a sense of pride–he is the only president I ever knew on a first name basis before he became president. It is kind of strange, but at the same time I know he is positive–he doesn’t need it, he’s worked hard to get it.”