20 January 2017
An errant firework at Donald Trump's pre-inaugural fireworks display Thursday which spelled out 'USR' instead of 'USA' has sparked a storm of jokes suggesting that the incoming president plans to turn America into the 'United States of Russia'.
Russia can't seem to get a break from accusations of interfering in American politics. First, they were accused of hacking the election. Then, they got blamed for patching RT through to C-SPAN and glitching out an MSNBC anchor to say 'Russia' over and over. Now, a couple rouge fireworks at Donald Trump's pre-inaugural fireworks display saying 'USR' ('United States of Russia' presumably) have led to a revival of the 'Russians did it' meme in full force.
On Thursday night, at a pre-inauguration welcoming party, speaking before tens of thousands of supporters at the feet of the Lincoln Memorial, the President-elect delivered a stirring speech, promising to make America not just great, but "greater than ever before." Telling the crowd to "enjoy the fireworks," Trump left the stage as the Battle Hymn of the Republic rang out, sung by US Marines, accompanied by a dazzling fireworks display which lasted for over five minutes.
However, just as the display reached its crescendo, meaning to spell out 'USA' in giant red, white and blue letters, viewers began scratching their heads and asking why the 'A' looked like an 'R'.
A cursory search of 'USA spelled in fireworks' in Google images reveals that an oddly shaped 'A' is actually quite common in fireworks displays, presumably owing to the difficulty of properly aligning the fireworks for such a complex spectacle. Examining the gaps in the 'R' from Thursday night, it's clear that a couple errant fireworks simply misaligned and appeared in the wrong place.
Still, the 'A's striking resemblance of an 'R', complete with proper curvature, soon turned into a social media sensation, and is even being reported on, tongue in cheek [for now], by major media outlets.
As expected, the meme quickly caught the attention of Russian Twitter users, who 'welcomed' Americans into the 'United States of Russia', created videos of the fireworks overlaid with an English-language version of the Soviet anthem, and joked that Russian hackers were obviously behind the 'R'.