President Trump has long mused both publicly and privately over the concept of a military parade in Washington D.C. to demonstrate the power of the American armed forces.
White House and Pentagon officials say they have begun to plan a parade slated for later this year in order to fulfill Trump’s vision of tanks rolling down Capitol Hill and soldiers marching in the streets.
The Washington Post reported that in a meeting between Trump and top generals on Jan. 18, an official said the president’s desire for a parade was now heard as a presidential directive.
“The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France,” a military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said to the Washington Post, “This is being worked at the highest levels of the military.”
President Trump’s inspiration for the parade came from the display of French pride and militarism at last year’s Bastille Day, which the president attended as a guest of French prime minister Emmanuel Macron.
Two months later at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, President Trump told reporters, “It was one of the greatest parades I’ve ever seen. It was two hours on the button, and it was military might, and I think a tremendous thing for France and for the spirit of France.” He then added “We’re going to have to try to top it.”
The early discussions of the parade have been described as simple “brainstorming sessions,” but much more has not been disclosed. However, following the Washington Post article, the White House issued a statement confirming the gist of the President’s idea.
“President Trump is incredibly supportive of America’s great service members who risk their lives every day to keep our country safe,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement, “He has asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation.”
However, not everyone is as enthusiastic about the display of American strength as the President, some see it as undercutting the professional, democratic nature of the American armed forces.
“We have more important things to do than to focus on a damn parade,” retired Army Lt. Gen. Mick Bednarek, who headed up the US-lead effort against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, said in an interview with Politico. “We don’t need to spend Americans’ taxpayers dollars laying on a parade.”
But as noted by the Washington Post, midterm elections are fast approaching and Trump’s approval rating is at an all time low, so the lure of honoring troops is powerful.
Officials have discussed Memorial Day as a potential date for the parade, but the Pentagon maintains that Veteran’s Day is a better choice, partly because it coincides with the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One.