Since seeing the French parade their military during the 2017 Bastille Day celebration, Donald Trump has talked of doing the same thing. Initially, he wanted to recreate the same pageantry on a larger scale in Washington, DC, complete with tanks rolling down the streets, while soldiers marched behind and military aircraft flew past overhead.
Those plans came to a screeching halt when the city government pointed out that tanks would render the roads they drove over unusable for days, and that they would expect the full cost of repairing said roads to be borne by the federal government. Even Trump’s own military advisers advised against such a parade, saying it would not be the best use of precious military resources. Most important, nobody seemed to know where the money to cover such a display would come from.
This year, however, it seems all the restraining voices have been silenced, and Mr. Trump intends to have his pageant. Things have been scaled back. No longer does he expect Abrahams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles to pass in review. No, now they are to be ‘parked’ in ‘prominent spots’. And while no surging mass of service members will be required to parade past him, a large contingent of service members will be taking part. And he will get his military fly-over, courtesy of the Navy’s Blue Angels.
Mr. Trump calls this a ‘Salute to America’. Yet those attending will be separated, with ‘VIP’ tickets being issued by the Republican Party. And while funding to pay for the review stands, podium and all the other associated work to stage this event is still largely kept from the taxpayers who are paying for it, the Park Service has already admitted that over two million dollars of it’s funds will go towards paying for this. That money, by the way, came from admission fees charged to enter national parks, and was originally intended to cover maintenance and upkeep of our national parks.
What is most disturbing about this ‘Salute to America’ is the fact that it does nothing to actually salute this nation. Unlike France and many other European nations, America has no history of parading our military services through the street. We honor not the various services, but the brave men and women who step forward to serve in them. And while I have not read, nor heard, what Mr. Trump will say in front of the Lincoln Memorial, I will stake a fair amount of money that much of it will be not about the courage of those who volunteer to service, nor will it be about this nation as a whole. No, it will mostly be about Donald Trump.
And if that happens, it means this expenditure of our tax dollars is paying for nothing less than a publicly-funded campaign rally…and that should worry every American.