Outside of the secure area, on the other end of the National Mall, where PBS will be holding its annual Fourth of July concert — a completely separate event from the president’s rally — there appeared to be far fewer Trump supporters. The president’s red “MAGA” hats were hard to find, and Trump 2020 T-shirts were nowhere to be found.
Before Mr. Trump’s arrival, supporters of the president huddled in the V.I.P. section under trees to escape a long downpour while the Marine Corps Band played a medley of patriotic songs, including “God Bless America.” Brief cheers of “U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U-S-A!” came from the military crowd pressed along the fence line.
Daniel P. Cortez, age 68, of Stafford, Va., who was wounded in Vietnam as a Marine infantryman, sat in the V.I.P. section waiting for the president. The director of public affairs for the National Veterans Court Alliance, Mr. Cortez said he received an invitation from the White House on Monday.
“I’m not a Republican. I’m an independent,” said Mr. Cortez, the recipient of the Navy Commendation Medal for valor, a Purple Heart and the Navy-Marine Corps Medal. “But when the White House calls, I’m not going to pass up a seat at an event like this. Patriots should go to any White House. I’m honored to go.”
Jason Cullins, a truck driver from Lafayette, La., didn’t plan to come to the Trump event Thursday. He was on his way to drop off a load in New Jersey and decided to stop in Washington because he can’t deliver on the Fourth of July.
“There’s always a show in Washington, D.C., so I had to make a stop,” he said as he held flags that said “Trump 2020” and “Make America Great Again.” “You have everybody here. You have anti-Trump people, which I don’t agree with, but by God that’s what makes America great. We have freedom of speech. I have no problem with them.”