Photo courtesy of Getty Images | President Donald Trump had such a good time watching a military parade during Bastille Day celebrations that he decided he wants to have a military parade like it in the United States. Republicans and Democrats have criticized the idea claiming it would be a display of power, not a celebration.
An anonymous military official revealed to the Washington Post that the Pentagon has “marching orders” from President Donald Trump to put on a military parade similar to one the president attended in France in July last year.
After the publication of the Washington Post article, the Pentagon confirmed the marching orders, saying, “We are aware of the request and are in the process of determining specific details.”
“It’s entirely normal for states to seek actions which increase their power or traditional military credibility, but this is unnecessary for the United States,” junior Evan Yahng, a political science and Spanish double major, said.
Trump appears to have been inspired by France’s annual Bastille Day celebrations, which he attended as a guest of French President Emmanuel Macron. It is the largest military parade in Europe and showcases the personnel of the French military as opposed to the hardware.
The parade is held in celebration of the anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille in 1789. The Bastille was a medieval fortress-prison and was seen as symbol of the French royal family. At the time, inmates were mainly people who had been jailed on the basis of signet letters, which were essentially royal indictments that could not be appealed. The Storming of the Bastille is considered a turning point in the French Revolution, and the parade celebrates the unity of the French people.
Trump was impressed by the celebrations, saying later during his trip home on Air Force One that he was “dazzled” by the display and that he wanted one at home. The president brought up the parade again when he met Macron at the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
“It was one of the greatest parades I’ve ever seen,” Trump said. “It was two hours on the button, and it was military might and I think a tremendous thing for France and the spirit of France.”
Trump even joked with Macron, saying, “We’re going to have to try to top it.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that the president has “asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation.”
Yahng believes there would be only minor, if any, benefits for the U.S. as a result from the parade.
“The lack of military parades is not what is causing decreased U.S. influence abroad, and neither is an imagined unpatriotic American attitude towards the military,” Yahng said. “The U.S. has a ubiquitous culture of respect for the military and exorbitant military spending.”
There has been concern from both parties that the parade may be more of display of military might as opposed to a celebration of America’s service men and women.
“I have no desire to go to a Soviet hardware display. To me that’s cheesy and weak,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said.
Graham went on to say that the parade would only be appropriate if it placed the men and women on display for the nation to say thank you to them and their families.
Senator and Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) called the parade “simply ridiculous.”
“We have troops who are in harm’s way right now, we have Secretary (of State Rex) Tillerson talking about sending Americans into Syria on a permanent basis, and our president wants to spend hard-earned taxpayer dollars on a parade?” Duckworth said.
An informal Military Times poll found that 89 percent of its readers think that a parade would be “a waste of money and troops are too busy,” while 11 percent believe “it’s a great opportunity to show off U.S. military might.”
While American military parades are not common in modern times, there have been a few throughout the past few decades. The most recent parade occurred in 1991, with around 8,000 troops marching down Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the end of the Gulf War. It included stealth fighter jets with tanks and Patriot missiles in front of a crowd of 200,000.
The Inauguration of John F. Kennedy in 1961 also included a parade featuring missiles, soldiers and sailors aboard Navy boats that were towed down Pennsylvania Avenue.
Dwight Eisenhower’s 1953 inaugural parade included 22,000 military service members, along with a cannon capable of firing a nuclear warhead. There were several parades during World War II, including one of 30,000 men and women marching down Fifth Avenue in New York for the Army Day Parade in 1942. There were also several victory parades, with one of the more famous ones being a display led by the 82nd Airborne Division.
“Meticulous planning of this nature seems out of character for the generally disorganized administration,” Yahng said. “What remains is a move that is quintessentially Trump: excessive and arbitrary but meant to superficially strengthen the administration’s hyper-patriotic facade while accomplishing very little.”
“On one hand, this fits perfectly into the American heuristic of Trump. On the other, it is the move that he has made, which is most overtly reminiscent of despotism. The only question is whether or not the parade indicates a deepening pattern towards the primacy of violence.”
No date has officially been set for the parade, as it is still in its early planning stages. However, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Veterans Day (which celebrates the 100 year anniversary of the end of the World War I) are being considered.
By: Jack Dunn ~Staff Writer~