President Donald Trump is hosting his own Fourth of July celebration at the Lincoln Memorial this year, complete with a VIP section for which taxpayers will foot the bill. The latest wrinkle, according to The Washington Post: Trump has insisted on having tanks and other armed military vehicles present for the celebration.
Abrams tanks or Bradley Fighting Vehicles would serve as props for Trump’s “Salute to America,” set for just three days from now. That’s in addition to a military aircraft flyover, including a performance by the Navy’s Blue Angels.
Last year, Trump similarly hoped to hold a military parade on Veterans Day, insisting it would be “great for the spirit of the country,” having been inspired by a Bastille Day parade in France. That parade would have reportedly cost an estimated $92 million, half of which would have just been for non-military costs like security. Even the American Legion responded that “the parade money would be better spent fully funding the Department of Veteran Affairs and giving our troops and their families the best care possible.”
There were likewise concerns that these massive tactical vehicles, some of which can weigh over 60 tons, would damage roads and bridges in the District of Columbia. The D.C. City Council weighed in Monday morning, saying, “Tanks, but no tanks,” and noting concerns about infrastructure damage.
— Council of DC (@councilofdc) July 1, 2019
The Trump administration has been teasing “infrastructure week” for years, but recently Trump refused to sit down with congressional Democrats to discuss infrastructure legislation. He instead held his own press conference to chastise Democratic lawmakers for their investigation “witch hunts.”
News of Trump’s latest Fourth of July request comes the same week that he also became the first sitting president to step foot into North Korea, a country run by a brutal fascist known for holding massive military parades. Trump called it “a great honor” and “something incredible” to have entered the country, praising dictator Kim John Un and inviting him to the White House.
As officials mull over Trump’s parade demands, many have noted that President Dwight Eisenhower, who himself led the Allied Expeditionary Forces in World War II, reportedly opposed grand displays of military force. According to presidential historian Michael Beschloss, Eisenhower was of the opinion that “we, the United States, are seeking peace. We are the pre-eminent power on earth. For us to try to imitate what the Soviets are doing in Red Square would make us look weak.”