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Military Parades

The US Defense Department said 16 August 2018 it would postpone the large military parade in Washington that was planned for Veterans Day in November. Defense Department spokesman Rob Manning announced that the military and the White House agreed to explore opportunities next year. But he did not mention the reason for the postponement. Donald Trump ordered the Pentagon to plan a military parade after attending France's Bastille Day parade last year as a guest of President Emmanuel Macron. The last large-scale military parade in Washington took place in 1991 to commemorate the end of the Gulf War. US media reported that the parade would cost 92 million dollars, more than 3 times preliminary estimates. Some critics have said it is a waste of taxpayers' money and reminiscent of a dictatorship.

Large military parades in the United States are generally rare. Sometimes the main thing is not the action itself, but the demonstration of the possibility to fulfill it. A variety of strategy for eliminating the danger is its prevention. Thus, parades and exercises are used to demonstrate potential forces and equipment to a potential enemy.

Military parades in the Greco-Roman world evolved in part from religious processions. In spite of the lack of comparative studies of military parades, it is clear that each military parade is contextualized in particular historical circumstances and that it further represents specific political ideologies and particular power relations.

A fascist rally in Rome or Nuremberg, the British queen's jubilee celebration in 2002, a small-town American Fourth of July celebration — all owe their basic form to the official festivals of the French Revolution. A central part of the official French Revolutionary festivals, whatever their political flavor, was the military parade, accompanied by marching music. The idea of military marches as an entertaining spectacle goes back to well before the revolution.

Military parades of grandeur are not common in the US, even as small military units often march in Fourth of July celebrations in towns and cities across the country or at the quadrennial presidential inaugural parades in Washington, such as 2017 when Trump became the 45th U.S. president.

Overt displays of military weaponry are seldom seen in the U.S., unlike the Soviet Union's decades-old Red Square celebrations or those in Pyongyang staged in recent years by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. But U.S. President George H.W. Bush had military hardware in a 1991 parade celebrating victory in the Persian Gulf War and Presidents Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy displayed military might at their inaugural parades in 1949 and 1961, respectively, at the height of the Cold War.

Donald Trump wanted a military parade in Washington to top the one he watched last Bastille Day in France, ordering Pentagon leaders to make plans for a show of military might in the American capital. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Wednesday that military officials were putting together some options for a parade and would present them to Trump for a decision. "We're all aware of the president's affection and respect for the military," Mattis told reporters at the White House 08 February 2018.

Possible dates include three existing U.S. national holidays — Memorial Day on May 28 that traditionally honors U.S. war dead, Independence Day on July 4 when there already is a mammoth fireworks show on the National Mall in Washington, and Veterans Day on November 11, which in 2018 coincided with the 100th anniversary of the victorious end of teh Great War.

U.S. Budget Director Mick Mulvaney estimated President Donald Trump's proposed military parade would cost taxpayers as much as $30 million. "I've seen various different cost estimates of between $10 and $30 million depending on the size of the parade," he told the House Budget Committee.

The Washington Post said that Trump ordered planning for the parade at a January 18 meeting with the Pentagon's top officials, including Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Joseph Dunford. The newspaper quoted one military official as saying, "The marching orders were: 'I want a parade like the one in France.' This is being worked at the highest levels of the military."

Donald Trump said he asked the Pentagon to stage a military parade in the nation’s capital on Veterans Day. Trump was interviewed live via telephone by Jeanine Pirro, host of Justice with Judge Jeanine on Fox News, 24 February 2018. They discussed the recent mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida, as well as other issues, including a proposed military parade. He told Pirro that the parade would be held “probably Veteran’s Day,” which is celebrated Nov. 11, “but I like July 4th.” He said it would be “up and down” Pennsylvania Avenue, the street in Washington that runs from the White House to the U.S. Capitol. “We’ll see if we can do it at a reasonable cost,” Trump said. “If we can’t, we don’t do it.” He said the parade would include “a lot of flyovers” of Air Force planes.

The military reportedly favored the November date to divorce the aura of the parade and its symbolism of U.S. military strength as much as possible from the contentious U.S. political scene, since the parade would then fall days after congressional elections, set for Nov. 6. The inspiration to hold a military parade began after Trump watched Bastille Day events in Paris last July 14, when he and first lady Melania Trump were the guests of French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte.

The Pentagon said in March 2018 it was planning a military parade requested by U.S. President Donald Trump later this year, but said the celebrations will not include tanks because they could damage Washington’s roads. A Pentagon memo said the parade will end with a “heavy air component,” meaning many airplanes flying overhead. “Include wheeled vehicles only, no tanks — consideration must be given to minimize damage to local infrastructure,” the memo said.

The guidance said the parade should focus on the “contributions of U.S. military veterans throughout history,” starting from the American Revolutionary War, and should include veterans wearing period uniforms. It said the airplanes used at the end of the parade should also include “older aircraft, as available.” There was bipartisan opposition to the proposal in Congress, much of it from lawmakers who say a parade would be perceived around the world as dictatorial. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he would agree to a parade that honors members of the armed forces, but that a "Soviet-style" parade featuring large military weapons would be a sign of "weakness." Senator John Kennedy, also a Republican [unrelated to the other John Kennedy], told reporters, "I think confidence is silent and insecurity is loud." Kennedy added: "America is the most powerful country in all of human history; you don't need to show it off."

The plans would be executed by the US Northern Command, the unit is responsible for all the US Troops stationed in North America. The parade will include the Old Guard Fife and Drum, which normally dons period uniforms for events such as this.

4th of JulyThe Fourth of July festivities commemorate America's declaration of independence from Britain in 1776. Donald Trump played host 04 July 2019 in Washington for what he called "The Show of a Lifetime" to celebrate U.S. Independence Day. Trump was the first president in nearly seven decades to address a crowd on Independence Day at the National Mall, the large open park that spans from the iconic Lincoln Memorial monument to the US Capitol. President Harry Truman, in 1951, was the last president to hold such an event. He spoke before a large gathering to mark the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

The White House handed out tickets for seats to Trump's speech only to Republicans loyal to the president. Protesters included military veterans who say they resent someone who never served in the military exploiting their service for his own satisfaction. Trump has long expressed deep interest in staging a military parade in Washington, DC, but the idea had been widely criticized and estimated to be very costly.

While US presidents have traditionally just watched Americans celebrate independence in their own way, Trump himself directly took charge of this celebration. He made a long speech at the Lincoln Memorial highlighting 243 years of American history, despite steamy weather and the threat of storms, and introduced military jet flyovers, patriotic band music and a display of tanks.

Two M1A2 Abrams tanks, as well as two M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, were spotted being transported to the Mall on Heavy Equipment Transporter flatbed trucks. Lawrence Tribe, a Harvard University professor, compared the two tanks on the Mall to the Chinese Communist Party’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters at Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989. “The resemblance to days before Tiananmen Square is chilling,” he wrote. Comedian Bill Maher called the tanks part of a “Dictator Checklist”. But there are armored vehicles every year in Washington, during the U.S. Army’s annual Association of the U.S. Army conference and its Army Ten Miler expo.

The National Park Service would not be providing estimates of the size of the crowd.

“Trump has to colonize everything,” said Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a history professor at New York University who specializes in authoritarian leaders. “Any holiday, any civic ritual, becomes a Trump ritual.”

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Page last modified: 09-07-2019 17:57:00 ZULU