Column: Should the U.S. bring back military parades?

Anything that will show our support and respect to the men and women who fight for us in the military seems like a good idea. However, there might be better ways to spend the money it would cost for a parade while still supporting our troops.

Brandon Bartlett is a freshman political science major at MU. He is an opinions columnist who writes about politics for The Maneater.

President Trump recently said he has interest in having a military parade in Washington, D.C., to show off the U.S. military’s strength and honor its troops and has asked the Pentagon to look into it. The president was originally inspired by a military parade on Bastille Day in France, after which he said, “It was one of the greatest parades I’ve ever seen. We’re going to have to try and top it.” Military parades seem like something unheard of to many Americans, but our capitol has actually been hosting them over the span of about the last 150 years.

A military parade was held in Washington, D.C., in 1865 as a way to observe the victory of the Union in the Civil War. Over 200,000 soldiers participated, conducted by then-President Andrew Johnson. There were many military parades held throughout the 20th century to celebrate the endings of war and during wartime to show solidarity for the troops. At least seven military parades have been held since 1865, including ones in 1919, 1942, 1946, 1953, 1957, 1961 and 1991. Parades held to show off and support the U.S. military really aren’t a new idea. However, like most of the things the president says, this idea has been reacted to with adoration, hatred and everything in between.

Of course, those who will eternally defy Trump took this opportunity to call him an authoritarian, fascist dictator. A headline from Salon, a news and opinion website, reads “Trump’s military parade: Straight out of the fascist playbook.” This rhetoric seems strange since there are non-fascist nations who hold military parades such as France.

On the other side of the spectrum there are those, such as Defense Secretary James Mattis, who seem to like the idea and believe it is a great way to show respect to our troops. Mattis said at a White House briefing, “We're all aware in this country of the president's affection and respect for the military.” Finally, there also seems to be a skeptical position in the middle which argues that a military parade would be quite costly and the money could be better spent. The most recent military parade, in 1991, cost a grand total of $12 million, according to Thomas Barrabi who writes for Fox Business. When you start to look into it, the money could be better spent while still supporting the troops.

The 1991 parade included 8,000 Desert Storm troops who marched and “so much military hardware moving, at times it seemed as if Washington was under attack,” according to Eric Engberg, a news correspondent for CBS News. Given Trump’s statements, it would be surprising if a current military parade wasn’t quite the show. Even if it won’t hold the record for the largest one ever, he’s already stated that he would like to “top” the parade held in France. While there hasn’t been an official proposed price tag put on Trump’s desired parade, the cost of the parade from 1991 would be $21 million in 2018, after adjusting for inflation, according to Fox Business.

While it’s always a great idea to honor our troops who fight for us with a parade, there are probably far better things we could do for our service members than have them walk and drive tanks down Pennsylvania Avenue for $21 million. However, it seems with the current federal government’s lack of worry about the most efficient way to spend tax money, such a parade has a high chance of occurring.

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