Image from The Star
We have all probably heard by now that you were so impressed by the Bastille Day parade this past July in Paris, that you have asked the Pentagon to provide a plan for putting on a military parade here in the U.S. You reportedly ordered: “I want a parade like the one in France,” with soldiers marching and tanks rolling.
According to White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, “President Trump is incredibly supportive of America’s great service members who risk their lives every day to keep our country safe. He has asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation.”
The parade in France is unique and its historical meaning has seemed to fly over your head. As explained in an article in the Washington Post by Sylvie Kauffman, an editorial director and columnist with the French newspaper Le Monde and a contributing writer to the New York Times, “…France’s Bastille Day military parade is an old tradition, going back to 1880. Its longevity and popularity have many historical reasons. Probably different from Trump’s motivations.”
The Washington Post article continues:
In fact, the Bastille Day parade, which has persisted through two world wars and a Nazi occupation, has also been used to emphasize a very different message, which could be summarized as: We are only strong together. What Trump may have missed while watching the Paris parade last July was that its organizers have frequently invited foreign troops — from Morocco and India to the United States, Britain and Germany — to march alongside French soldiers or to even lead the procession. Instead of the French flag, French soldiers sometimes carry the European Union flag, even though the political bloc does not have its own army.
So, the parade has a long history in its country and emphasizes national unity. In addition, France invites a country to march alongside or lead the parade as a symbolic gesture of friendship and international cooperation or to commemorate a historical event. In fact, French President Emmanuel Macron invited you because the parade commemorated the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I in 1917. According to Stars & Stripes, “[a]bout 190 troops — from the Fort Riley, Kan.-based 1st Infantry Division, which was formed to serve in WWI; U.S. Army Europe, U.S. Naval Forces Europe; U.S. Marine Forces Europe and U.S. Air Forces in Europe will lead the parade…in Paris.”
I don’t think any of this – national unity, gestures of friendship, commemorating a historical event – is what you mean by “I want a parade like France.” Like a child, you liked the bells and whistles of the Paris parade and wanted your own. I can imagine my 7-year-old son saying “look at that tank on the street,” “that’s a fast plane,” “there are so many troops marching.” The true meaning would escape him like it obviously did for you.
And, just because I can’t let it slide, let’s not forget the price tag. NBC News estimates that it would cost about $21 million, based on the inflation adjusted costs for the last military parade held in 1991 to mark the victory in the Persian Gulf War.
Many on both sides of the political spectrum have their issues with these costs or with the message the parade sends, especially in light of the ongoing War on Terror.
Here are recent tweets from Senator Brian Schatz (D-HA) and Senator John Kelly (R-LA):
A military parade costs millions. Let’s fix military housing, hire more VA doctors, fund telehealth, DOD schools, support the commissaries, daycare for families, or give more flight training time. Our highest defense priority must be the service members, not the politicians.— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) February 7, 2018
Sen. John Kennedy on Pres. Trump's proposed military parade: "I don't think it's a particularly good idea. Confidence is silent. Insecurities are loud." https://t.co/pcAA0fj2hD pic.twitter.com/Vs6qnq4f42— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) February 7, 2018
The American public will demand that this parade never happens and tell Congress not to fund it.
Instead, I urge you to do something that doesn’t cost anything and will do more to honor our service members and show our appreciation for them than a 2-hour parade.
Find nominees ASAP for the positions in your executive branch that help our troops and veterans. You have yet to fill these positions. I’ll provide the positions and the descriptions so you can get the ball rolling as quickly as possible:
Department of Labor
Assistant secretary for veterans employment and training:
Leads office in its mission to prepare veterans, service members and their spouses for careers, provide them employment resources and expertise, protect their rights, and promote employment opportunities; oversees 245 full-time employees and a budget that in fiscal 2016 was more than $271 billion
Department of Veterans Affairs
Undersecretary for Health:
Leads the Veterans Health Administration, the largest integrated health care system in the U.S., and assures delivery of its services to veterans; oversees a budget of over $65 billion, over 326,000 personnel in 152 VA medical centers, over 900 outpatient clinics and 134 community living centers
Undersecretary for benefits:
Provides benefits and services to veterans, service members, their families and survivors, establishes and communicates the agency’s goals and outcomes, oversees a budget of more than $97 billion and leads more than 21,000 personnel
Assistant secretary for information and technology:
Serves as the VA’s chief information officer and delivers technology services to the department; oversees the day-to-day activities of more than 8,000 employees, and an additional 8,000 contractor personnel, as well as a budget of approximately $4 billion