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The Antelope

Hiding behind military, Trump’s ego parades around


With price, perspective, many reasons not to do military parade
By Eliot Gonnella

Of all the sayings that get tossed around in politics, both on the national level and between families, one of the most common is “Support the troops.” It is a nice patriotic soundbite that garners a positive response from many. Perhaps more than freedom and our standard of living, the military is something Americans tend to brag about the most and with that the unconditional love we give the soldiers. After all, who could not give anything but unwavering devotion to our military?

Well, they doexist, and you are reading the writing of one of them.

Let me be clear, I respect the military, and several members of my family served with distinction. My father served on a nuclear-powered attack submarine during the Cold War, my grandfather during the closing days of Korea, a few of my uncles served in the Navy and many more down the family line. I respect active servicemen/servicewomen, along with veterans, and I show them deference when it is appropriate.

However, I don’t blindly worship them or rally behind people who simply say “We need to do more for the troops.” The latter is usually the telltale sign of a confident man and the former is because they are flawed humans just like me, and I think no one is beyond judgment.

I say this so when I talk about Trump’s idea for a military parade, you know where I stand when it comes to the military and politicians who mention troops as often as they do God.

Last week, a report was made that Trump was in talks with the Pentagon about putting on a military parade. Instantly, there were detractors and supporters for the idea, which Trump said he got after watching one while he visited France last year to celebrate America’s involvement in the First World War. The one being planned is rumored to coincide with the one-hundred-year anniversary of said war’s end on November 11, 1918.

First, and perhaps most obviously,


I find it borderline hilarious that people, including Trump himself, believe he supports the military.


This is the same man who belittled Senator McCain’s war service, called two Gold Star family liars, forbids transgender troops from serving, lied about money he has given to veteran groups and many things I am sure to be missing in this list. You cannot just wipe a slate like this clean with some troops marching down Pennsylvania Avenue .

Further, the troops are just a piece of this parade. The true focus will be on Trump himself; that fact is beyond doubt in my mind. For those of us who have seen videos of parades, it is nothing more than a shock and awe technique for the public. Nice regimented lines of soldiers, armored tread jobs, and in many cases, a couple of missiles. But the one thing that remains a constant is that at some point, either at the beginning, middle or end of the parade route, there is a stand where the leader is seated. At this point, the troops present turn and salute this individual, honoring him/her in a parade dedicated to them. 

That is what a parade is, when you cut past the gristle and get down to the bone of the matter. The parade does not honor or respect those who are marching. It honors the one who put it on. Look at the nations that routinely put on grandiose military parades. They are authoritarian cesspools that want to give the illusion of support and power: China, Russia, North Korea and a lot of tropical third-world countries.

I will admit that many European countries put on military parades, but they are often low key events that are done more out of tradition. Bastille Day in France comes to mind, and Belgium puts on an annual military parade. Unlike the other aforementioned countries and Trump’s proposed one, these are annual occurrences that hold a greater significance than a single anniversary date or an out-of-the-blue decision to “support the troops.”

Finally, there is the cost, and this is the biggest concern for many. A parade is widely expensive. For reference, the last military parade that was held by the U.S. government was at the end of the Persian Gulf War in 1991. That cost about $12,000,000 to put on. Assuming, and this is a big assumption, that Trump keeps it on the same level of cost and it translates to almost $21,600,000 using 2017 inflation. I’ll ignore the inevitable damage treaded tanks and troop carriers do to roads that were not designed to hold so much weight and pressure. Even if we spend the most in the world when it comes to the military, it is a substantial amount of money that doesn’t come out of nowhere.

In a time when the government has shut down twice in three weeks, spending is supposed to be kept under watch, since raising taxes is a virtual impossibility to make up for the loss in revenue. $21 million dollars is expensive for a PR stunt, and if that money must be spent, it would be even better to find a program within the government to help take care of the troops.

The Veteran Affairs’ hospital problems have not disappeared, and with reforming and more funding, that would impact more soldiers who are returning with visible and invisible wounds, along with those who had done their share years ago. Perhaps increase funding to the GI Bill, helping soldiers get an education that translates military skills into job skills. Surely that would get applause from both sides of the aisle. Or, maybe create something new, like a program that will assist with rent and utilities. Those would really support the troops and would score well with the political base.

But let me guess, they are not going to run down main street carrying banners to salute the man who did those things for them. To Trump, quiet appreciation is worse than jeers. He can’t lash out at those “attacking” him, and with silence, there is nothing to play with.

If you truly respect the troops, help them with real problems. A five-hour long affair in the middle of November isn’t going to cure post traumatic stress disorder. Spending millions of dollars so tanks and missile launchers can roll down a street won’t help those soldiers find a job that fits the skills they learned in the military.

All it does is look pretty and strokes the ego of a man who could be the furthest thing from a commander in chief.

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