President Donald Trump waves as he boards Air Force One. (Reuters/Yuri Gripas)
SHARPSBURG, Md. – President Donald Trump is donating his first quarter’s salary to restoring historical structures at the Antietam National Battlefield — a Civil War site and stage of the bloodiest single day battle in U.S. history.
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced Trump’s $78,333 donation Wednesday in front of crowd gathered at Antietam. Trump’s salary will go toward restoring the Newcomer House Civil War information center and 5,000 feet of Civil War style fencing.
“I can find no better investment in our country than our battlefields. As a former Navy Seal … It’s preserving our heritage of why we fight,” Zinke said. “We fight for our family, we fight for our friends, we fight for our country, and we fight for freedom. And no doubt, the area around us is a kind of reflection as all of our children, our children’s children will walk through these grounds and realize what a great country we restored.”
An anonymous donor added $22,000 to Trump’s donation to make the total a little more than $100,000. Other private donations from the Civil War Trust, National Park Foundation, and Save Historic Antietam Foundation equaled $263,545, Zinke announced.
On top of the private donations, Zinke said $7.2 million in Department of the Interior grants protect 19 battlefields from the Civil and Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.
“[These grants will] make sure we preserve and protect the very essence of our country,” he said.
Trump’s opponents have criticized the president’s donation, calling it a “publicity stunt.”
“If Donald Trump is actually interested in helping our parks, he should stop trying to slash their budgets to historically low levels. This publicity stunt is a sad consolation prize as Trump tries to stifle America’s best idea,” Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said in a statement. “It’s a distraction that falls far short of the $12 billion needed to address the current backlog of park maintenance and does nothing to offset the almost $2 billion Trump asked Congress to cut from the Department of the Interior in his budget.”
Trump has promised to donate his entire presidential salary at the end of the year.
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