President Trump’s desire to have a military parade in Washington, D.C., was made public recently, and it did not take long for the notion to arouse controversy. Though the details of the procession have not been ironed out yet, the idea has already been criticized by members of Congress for being too expensive and a waste of taxpayers’ money. It has also been suggested that countries that demonstrate their military strength so blatantly — a la our current national nemesis North Korea — have warlike, demagogic tendencies.
But, for as many reasons as there are not to have such a parade, there are just as many, if not more, reasons for opening up D.C.’s Pennsylvania Avenue to such a display.
First, a military parade would concretely demonstrate the pride we always claim to have in our armed forces. If we are so proud and grateful for what our military does for us, why not make that clear through a visual display? Let’s put our money where our mouth is.
Let’s also show our own country what our military looks like. Many of us appear to think we know how our military is constituted and functions, or don’t care as long as it does its job and keeps us protected. A parade would give our country, through the wonder of television, an up-close look at the people serving us, in all their regalia.
A military parade would inspire pride in our country. This might seem like a trite, old-fashioned reason for having a parade. But what’s wrong with that? All citizens should have pride in their native countries, and a military parade could go a long way to ignite such feelings.
The world is a dangerous place, with enemies near and far, in the forms of terrorists, dangerous regimes and even violent street gangs like MS-13. A military parade would make clear to all enemies and potential enemies that America is indeed a strong country with which to be reckoned. Those of us not in the military want to keep what we have in this country, so we need to send a message to our enemies, at least once in a while, not to mess with us. Isn’t this true?
And everybody loves a parade! Isn’t that a good enough reason to have one? Americans in particular love parades. We have them for most major holidays in this country. They are festive, attractive and inspirational. They just make us feel good, and we in this country can always use an injection of good feelings.
And for the objectors, there’s an answer to each of your concerns.
For those who complain that a parade would be too expensive and a waste of taxpayer money, know that the parade would be a one-day event at most, and honestly: What price can one put on an event that celebrates and attempts to inspire national pride, while simultaneously thanking and supporting our troops? We’re among the wealthiest countries in the world, and if we want it to remain that way, we owe it ourselves to celebrate the men and women who help sustain our greatness. Money should not be an issue.
The parade would be too political, some claim, appealing mostly to President Trump’s base and might be divisive instead of unifying. I think we would have to see about that. In fact, I believe that even Trump haters, for lack of a better term, would find something to be proud of in a military parade, when all is said and done.
Others say a military parade would make America resemble militaristic and dictatorial regimes like North Korea. That is a bit extreme, as North Korea puts on many more such demonstrations than our country proposes. Their displays of strength seem routine. Ours would be a singular event aimed mostly at inspiring American pride, while acknowledging that an occasional display of muscle is also necessary in a dangerous world.
So, let’s have the parade! It would be a unique, occasional event that would remind Americans proudly of what we have, why we have it and suggest where we would be if we lost it.
Michael Cromwell (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an English teacher and a veteran. He lives in Owings Mills.