[guest post by Dana]
It looks like President Trump’s dreamed-about military parade will be happening on on Independence Day:
President Trump said on Monday that the Pentagon would put military tanks on display on Thursday in Washington as part of his plans to turn the annual Fourth of July celebration in the nation’s capital into a salute to the country’s military prowess.
The tanks will join an airborne display of the nation’s firepower, including a flight of Air Force One over Washington and a performance by the Navy’s Blue Angels jets. Mr. Trump, who is to speak at the celebration, has requested that the chiefs for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines stand next to him as aircraft from each of their services fly overhead and their respective hymns play on loudspeakers.
“It’ll be like no other — it’ll be special, and I hope a lot of people come,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “We have some incredible equipment, military equipment, on display — brand-new. And we’re very proud of it.”
The Dept. of the Interior has provided details of what visitors can expect.
President Trump will also be delivering a speech during the celebration:
Mr. Trump is scheduled to deliver his Fourth of July speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, becoming the first president in decades to participate in the annual Independence Day event. Mr. Trump announced the speech via tweet in February.
“We will be having one of the biggest gatherings in the history of Washington, D.C., on July 4,” he wrote. “It will be called ‘A Salute To America’ and will be held at the Lincoln Memorial. Major fireworks display, entertainment and an address by your favorite President, me!”
And while President Trump’s speech will address all Americans, not just his supporters, it’s interesting to note that the Republican National Committee has reportedly received VIP tickets to hand out to donors and select members, while the Democratic National Committee claims they have not received any such tickets for their members.
About those tanks:
NBC News captured video of the tanks — two Bradley and two Abrams tanks — purportedly en route to the National Mall for Thursday’s event. Also in transport are support vehicles, including an M88, used to help recover heavy armored vehicles.
A photographer for the Associated Press also spotted two M1A1 Abrams tanks along with four other military vehicles on a freight train in southeast D.C. on Monday night.
The tanks will remain “static” on the National Mall:
A small number of M1 Abrams tanks and other armored vehicles will participate in President Donald Trump’s July Fourth celebrations in Washington on Thursday, US defense officials have confirmed to CNN…. they will not parade down Pennsylvania Avenue due to the need to protect roads and bridges.
Air travel will be impacted during this year’s parade as well, with flights suspended at Reagan National Airport during the flyover and fireworks display.
The cost of the parade is unknown at this point. However, the Washington Post has reported that, according to “two individuals familiar with the arrangement,” the National Park Service has diverted $2.5 million in entrance and recreation fees to cover costs for the Salute to America. These fees had been earmarked for improve parks nationwide:
Trump administration officials have consistently refused to say how much taxpayers will have to pay for the expanded celebration on the Mall this year, which the president has dubbed the “Salute to America.” The two individuals, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, confirmed the transfer of the Park Service funds Tuesday.
The diverted park fees represent just a fraction of the extra costs the government faces as a result of the event, which will include displays of military hardware, flyovers by an array of jets including Air Force One, the deployment of tanks on the Mall and an extended pyrotechnics show. By comparison, according to former Park Service deputy director Denis P. Galvin, the entire Fourth of July celebration on the Mall typically costs the agency about $2 million.
Back when President Trump got bitten by the military parade bug after being awestruck by the display of military might, pomp and pageantry during France’s Bastille Day Celebration, I wrote:
But here’s the real problem in all of this is: Trump. As we all know, the current Commander in Chief is a self-centered, self-consumed man, who adores being the center of attention, thrives on the adulation of the masses, has displayed authoritarian tendencies and one for whom one-upmanship is a way of life – especially when it involves giant spectacles of pomp and might. All of this combined threatens to produce an unrivaled, grand display which could easily end up focusing on Trump instead of the military and the honorable men and women who serve. If there was some sort of guarantee that absolutely no politician, including President Trump, would be allowed to grandstand, then it might be a wonderful event that would actually celebrate the military and its members. But if any politician of any political stripe were given a moment in the spotlight, they would undoubtedly exploit the military and the troops to pettily boast how their side supports the military more than the other side. This would be a travesty. We all know that politicians, being the unique breed of animal they are, would be absolutely unable to resist being so cravenly opportunistic. So without that provision set in stone, then such an event would no doubt be a distasteful political display of rank pandering at the expense of some extraordinary individuals and the U.S. military itself
I still have the same concerns but hope I am proven foolish to have them. With any luck, President Trump won’t see this as an opportunity to campaign for 2020, and other than his brief address, there won’t be a politician to be found because Americans will be too busy commemorating America’s 243rd birthday, freedom and independence.
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)