The great parade debate of 2018 has begun. The White House and the Pentagon are making the preparations for a military parade this year on order of President Donald Trump. The parade is expected to take place in Washington D.C.
As if on cue, many liberals began to attack the president’s proposed parade. Mika Brzezinski compared the idea to the military parades held in North Korea. Joy Reid, tweeted Trump “wants to be Kim Jong-un.” Rachel Maddow also made her opposition to the parade public. Keith Boykin, a liberal commentator and former White House aide, tweeted it is “things that dictators do.” In fact, military parades are things that elected presidents have done as well.
There’s a big difference between the military parades the North Koreans organize and of those in the United States. The North Koreans hold military parades on a regular basis for the purpose of showing off their military strength. In the United States, we have military parades rarely and only for celebratory purposes.
And why not hold a military parade when there are so many things worth celebrating? This year’s parade marks the centennial anniversary of the end of the First World War. Around 4 million men were enlisted to fight the Central Powers and 116,708 personnel died. Additionally, the war we’re fighting today against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is coming to an end. What’s left of their “caliphate” is just a series of pockets sprinkled across the Middle East.
This would be completely in line with previous military parades in the United States. Abraham Lincoln had a parade following the Union’s triumph over the Confederacy in the American Civil War. William McKinley had celebrations following victory in the Spanish-American War. There were military parades organized after the two world wars.
In the heady days of the Cold War, the inaugurations of Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy showcased many soldiers and hardware, including atomic cannons and nuclear warheads. The most recent military parade occurred under the administration of George H. W. Bush after the country won a lopsided victory against Iraq in the Gulf War.
Critics of Trump say this is just one more step towards a dictatorship. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Many of the men and women who serve in the military do so because they believe in the Constitution and the freedoms this country holds dear. A military parade honors those who wish to protect American values, not destroy them. In fact, Trump has made it clear the Bastille Day parade in France inspired him. In other words, this parade the president thought of had nothing to do with North Korea and I hardly believe the intention of having it is to threaten the French.
France, by the way, hasn’t lost any of bit of its democratic government despite having the military parade annually. The United Kingdom arranges parades for soldiers who return home and at royal events, but you don’t see fascists in Buckingham Palace or Downing Street.
The obstinate left, however, isn’t going to let history get in the way of their plans to disrupt a patriotic event. Arn Menconi, an activist and former Green Party candidate for Senate in Colorado, is getting together a group of people who will be willing to sit and lay down in front of tanks when the parade occurs. He claims to have drawn inspiration from what Chinese protesters did in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Of course, the Chinese tanks that rolled into Tiananmen Square were doing so to crush a youth movement that wanted democracy, freedom of the press, and more government accountability. American tanks represent everything the Chinese youth movement of the 1980s was standing for.
A military parade is hardly something to panic about. It is a perfect way to honor the sacrifice of the members of the armed forces who lost their lives in the recent War on Terror and in World War I. Rather than moving closer towards authoritarianism and a dictatorship, a military parade reasserts American virtues of freedom and democracy.
John Graber ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in history and political science.