Despite President Donald Trump asking the Pentagon to organize a military parade that resembled the iconic processions of France’s Bastille Day, local leaders and veterans have voiced both concern and ire over the prospects.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president supports “America’s great service members who risk their lives every day to keep our country safe.” The parade would afford, according to Sanders, “a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation.”
CNBC commentator Jake Novak said that while many have weighed in against a show of military power down Pennsylvania Avenue, he understood why such an event would appeal to Trump.
“The Bastille Day parade isn’t exactly like the Nazi or Soviet military parades of the past,” Novak wrote in a Feb. 8 editorial. “The stars of the French parade aren’t the politicians or even the weapons, but the actual troops and military veterans. They dominate the parade route at every turn. That’s the key to what makes copying such a spectacle such a positive for Trump.”
Many D.C.-area servicemen, however, said that the time, energy and money required to put on a massive military parade, replete with missiles and tanks, would be better exhausted on the overall health care, training, and payment of active and retired personnel.
“We are well-aware that we are loved by our nation. We fight everyday for our nation, for its citizens, and so the parade is not needed for us,” a retired Navy officer told The Informer. “There are many things that are needed at the Veterans Administration, at Disabled American Veterans, and at our local hospitals that should take precedence in showing support for us.”
A member of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration, Anu Rangappa, told The Washington Times that the District had not been contacted about a parade, however, “in the meantime, we do know that, just like the wall, he will have to pay for it.”
D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton offered a far more scathing assessment of the potential parade, first tweeting on Feb. 7, “A military parade in DC would shut down the nation’s capital and waste taxpayer dollars just to feed Trump’s ego. The way to show our service members and veterans that we appreciate their service is to use the parade money to fund their health care and other services they need.”
The next day, Norton released an official statement, which said in part: “While the District of Columbia, as the nation’s capital, is proud to host grand federal celebrations, such as the inauguration, we will fight a shutdown of our city that simply assuages Trump’s desire to brag and boast in a series of tweets. No one on Earth doubts that the American military is the most powerful in the world. Unlike less powerful nations, the United States has no need to show off by strutting our soldiers and equipment to prove our strength and leadership. Instead of wasting precious taxpayer resources, the way to show our service members and veterans that we appreciate their service is to use the military parade money to fund their health care and other services they need now.”
The last U.S. military parade, in 1991, celebrated victory in the Gulf War.