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Trump's Revolutionary War airport quote creates high-flying meme

Surely you learned about the Battle of Baggage Claim back in US history class.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, generational studies. Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
2 min read

President Donald Trump on Friday blamed a malfunctioning teleprompter for his July 4 statement that Revolutionary War soldiers took over airports in 1775, a century before the Wright brothers were even born. 

At an Independence Day celebration in Washington, the president began speaking about the bravery of Revolutionary War troops and then seems to have shifted to the War of 1812, with some erroneous additions.

"Our army manned the air, it rammed the ramparts, it took over airports, it did everything it had to do," the president said. 

"I knew the speech very well," the president said, according to Fox News. "So I was able to do without a teleprompter, but the teleprompter did go out and it was actually hard to look at anyway because [there] was rain all over it."

Whatever the cause of the error, the presidential gaffe led to the creation of the Twitter hashtags #RevolutionaryWarAirports and #RevolutionaryWarAirportStories. Naturally jokes flew faster than an F-15.

Many jokesters took famous Revolutionary War paintings and added airplanes and related items. 

"One of the prized possessions in my family is this commemorative postcard of the Lexington, Va. militia occupying the terminal at DCA in 1777," Keith Gaddie wrote on Twitter.

Others envisioned a very different history for the US, inventing battle names and heroic war stories. One Twitter user envisioned "The Battle of Baggage Claim (1776) . Many lives were lost. And bags too. Some people are saying it was the worst massacre they had ever seen."

The quote also inspired numerous parodies of letters home from soldiers, of the type made famous by dramatic readings delivered in filmmaker Ken Burns' documentaries. "Dearest, the battle for gate C4 was hard fought, but we prevailed," wrote one. "Alas, we ran out of ammunition, and had to lob our stores of Cinnabons at them."

And Paul Revere's famed "one if by land, two if by sea" phrasing turned out to be very useful for the meme. "One if by land. Two if by sea. Three if by the Delta Shuttle from LaGuardia," ran one version.