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Trump tells Pentagon he wants big military parade in DC — but some think it's unwise

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President Donald Trump has given orders to the Pentagon for a large-scale military parade in the middle of Washington D.C., the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

Why a parade?

According to the paper, officials have reportedly entered the planning stages of a "grand military parade" to take place later in the year, which will showcase America's military.

A military official speaking on the condition of anonymity reportedly told the Post that the plans are being worked on in the "highest levels of the military."

"The marching orders were: 'I want a parade like the one in France,'" the official reportedly said, referring to France's Bastille Day parade.

The Post reported that military officials are unsure of how the potential parade would be funded.

Another official reportedly told the outlet that nothing is yet set in stone.

"Right now, there’s really no meat on the bones," the official explained.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement after the Post published its article and confirmed that Trump requested the Department of Defense to "explore a celebration" to honor the military.

"President Trump is incredibly supportive of America’s great service members who risk their lives every day to keep our country safe," Sanders said. "He has asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation."

The Pentagon even went as far as to issue a statement about the parade plans.

According to the Post, Defense Department spokesman Thomas Crosson in a statement said, "We are aware of the request and are in the process of determining specific details. We will share more information throughout the planning process."

The Post reported that a date has not yet been set for the parade, but added that officials said Trump wants to "tie the parade to a patriotic holiday."

How was Trump inspired?

Trump in September said he was immensely impressed by France's Bastille Day military parade, and as a result, wanted the U.S. to hold a parade of its own.

"It was a tremendous day, and to a large extent because of what I witnessed, we may do something like that on July 4th in Washington down Pennsylvania Avenue," Trump said, according to Bloomberg. "We’re going to have to try to top it, but we have a lot of planes going over and a lot of military might, and it was really a beautiful thing to see, and representatives from different wars and different uniforms."

Trump attended the Bastille Day military parade as French President Emmanuel Macron's guest.

After witnessing the show of French military pride, Trump said that he wanted the U.S. to have "a really great parade to show our military strength."

Trump was reportedly so moved by the parade, that one of his "early calls" after returning to the U.S. was to kick off plans for a similar-style parade.

"It was one of the greatest parades I’ve ever seen," Trump said at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. "It was two hours on the button, and it was military might, and I think a tremendous thing for France and for the spirit of France."

Trump reportedly turned to Macron, who was in attendance, and added, "We’re going to have to try to top it."

Trump, in an interview with the Post prior to his 2017 inauguration, said, "We’re going to show the people as we build up our military ... That military may come marching down Pennsylvania Avenue. That military may be flying over New York City and Washington, D.C., for parades. I mean, we’re going to be showing our military.”

The Huffington Post in March also reported that Trump requested a presence of military vehicles for his January inauguration.

According to emails obtained by the Huffington Post, the Trump administration reportedly requested from the Pentagon "photographs of military tactical vehicles that he could include in his inaugural parade."

The outlet reported that Trump's Presidential Inaugural Committee, at the time, was "seriously considering adding military vehicles to the Inaugural Parade."

The Huffington Post also reported in January 2017 that Trump had requested that tanks and missile launchers be included in the parade.

The Pentagon instead granted flyovers for Inauguration Day, but they were canceled due to poor weather conditions.

What's the history with parades of this type in the U.S.?

Former President George H. W. Bush ordered the last large-scale military parade, which took place in Washington, D.C., in 1991.

Bush ordered the parade to honor U.S. troops and mark the end of the first Persian Gulf War.

Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf led the D.C. parade.

Do other countries do this?

In addition to France, Russia, China, and North Korea are three countries who stage large parades for their military forces. You can read more about the history of their military parades here.

Typically, though, the U.S. has shied away from such displays.

Presidential historian Michael Beschloss told NPR that "to have a military parade without the end of a war or an inaugural or some big reason in Washington, D.C." is simply "out of our tradition."

He added that former President Dwight D. Eisenhower struck down the notion of a large-scale military parade in the 1950s when Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev oversaw such parades that boasted "Soviet military might."

"Eisenhower said absolutely not, we are the preeminent power on earth," Beschloss said, pointing to Eisenhower's purported response to a White House official's suggestion to hold the same type of parade in the U.S. "For us to try to imitate what the Soviets are doing in Red Square would make us look weak."

What are people saying?

Several lawmakers have come out with criticism against reports of a parade.

Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier of California told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Tuesday that she was shocked by the news.

"I was stunned by it to be quite honest," she explained. "I mean, we have a Napoleon in the making here."

Speier also said that the parade would be a " waste of money," adding that "everybody should be offended by his need to always be showing."

Democratic Rep. Rick Larsen of Washington on Tuesday seemingly mocked the president's inauguration, and on Twitter wrote, "There was already a #TrumpParade in DC. Not very well attended the first time, would be a waste of Pentagon time and resources the second time."

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) added his two cents while appearing on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Tuesday, calling such a parade a "fantastic waste" of taxpayer funds.

"I say it’s a fantastic waste of money to amuse the president," Durbin said. "Take the money that the president would like to spend on this parade and instead let’s make sure our troops are ready for battle, and survive it and come home to their families. Let’s put money into the quality of life of military families who sacrifice with our men and women in uniform and, finally, let’s make sure that we’re doing something to stop the waiting lines at veterans hospitals."

Even a "Fox & Friends" host suggested that the idea of a parade was not a good one, also calling it a waste of money.

"I dunno, seems like a waste of money," co-host Brian Kilmeade said during a discussion of the report.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reportedly added that the notion of a parade is "cheesy" and a "sign of weakness."

Manu Raju, a senior congressional correspondent for CNN, tweeted, "Just spoke to Lindsey Graham who offered some criticism of military parades after the WH called for one."

"He said there's nothing wrong with having a parade to celebrate the military but said to have a parade to show military might is 'kind of cheesy and a sign of weakness.'"

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling told Time that he felt a military parade isn't traditional by U.S. standards:

"A lot of countries have histories of longtime military conquest and the power and strength of the military supporting the government, but since our inception that has not been who we are," he said. "We’re the only nation in the world that defends a piece of paper. An ideology. And to say we’re going to strut our stuff with tanks and rocket launchers and things like that, is just not a good representation of what the military does in a democratic nation."
One last thing…
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