President Trump said he would like a military parade in the District of Columbia but the city’s leaders and residents don’t like his idea. According to a story in the Washington Post, President Trump told generals he would like to showcase the power and might of the U.S. military in a procession that would proceed down a yet-to-be-named avenue in the District.
Regardless of where it is, D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) doesn’t like the idea. “President Trump’s desire to spend millions of taxpayers’ dollars on a military parade in the style of authoritarian leaders he admires would feed his ego and perhaps his base, rather than serve any legitimate purpose or keep with any long-held American traditions,” Norton said in a Feb. 7 statement. “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 boasts 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.”
Norton said, “Instead of wasting precious taxpayers’ 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 military peacetime parade held in the District was in 1991 after the 41-day Gulf War in which America helped Kuwait retain its sovereignty in the face of Iraq aggression. The Feb. 7 edition of the New York Times reported the parade, which took place on Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., cost $12 million to put on.
Trump reportedly was so impressed with France’s Bastille Day Parade last year that he wanted one just like it in the U.S. Authoritarian countries such as North Korea and China regularly have parades to show the world their hardware while Western democracies such as the U.S. and Great Britain don’t resort to that type of showcase of military might.
Members of the D.C. Council don’t like the idea of a parade. “Tanks but no Tanks,” a Feb. 7 tweet said on the Council’s Twitter feed, with a corresponding shared Washington Post article announcing Trump’s plan for the parade. The Council followed up the same day with a viral tweet that said, “The DC government will open on time today. DC Public Schools will open on time today. Sadly, the Giant Tank Parade is cancelled. Permanently.”
D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) has been particularly outspoken on the issue, tweeting on Feb. 7 a “military parade down the streets of DC to feed an insecure man’s fragile ego?”
“That’s a big no,” the council member said.
Ana Rangappa, a spokeswoman for D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), on Feb. 8 told Reuters “just like the wall, he will have to pay for it.”
D.C. Statehood Rep. Franklin Garcia (D), whose job is to lobby members of the U.S. House of Representatives to support District statehood, told the AFRO he didn’t care for the president’s idea of a military parade in the city, either. “The consensus that I am getting throughout the city is that it wouldn’t be welcome,” Garcia said. “I have even heard that some groups are looking at boycotting it and initiating civil disobedience to protest it. Honestly, I don’t know what to think about it because there is so much coming out of this White House.”
Leo Alexander, a District political activist, told the AFRO that a military parade in the city “is a ridiculous idea.”
“This idea comes from someone who was a five-time draft dodger,” Alexander said, referring to Trump’s use of deferments and exemptions to avoid serving in the Vietnam War. “We the people would have to pay $8-10 million for the parade. To me, that is far too much of a price to pay.”
While the feeling in the city is that the parade is a bad idea, some residents are receptive. “I personally don’t have a problem with it,” Ralph Chittams Sr., a Ward 7 resident told the AFRO. “It is good for the country’s pride and morale.”
Chittams did say a parade, if it goes down Pennsylvania Avenue, would have problems. “D.C. doesn’t have the infrastructure to support the weight of the military equipment that would be in the parade,” he said. “Frankly, I don’t think the parade will happen because Pennsylvania Avenue would crumble.”