Several weeks after President Trump announced his desire for a military parade in the style of France (or, less charitably, various despotic regimes), plans for the event are coming into focus.
A memo put out by the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the end of the week, and obtained by multiple news outlets, included some preliminary details.
The parade is set to take place on Veterans Day, November 11, integrating with the existing Washington parade that day. Its route will stretch from the White House to the U.S. Capitol, and, according to the memo, its focus will be “on the contributions of our Veterans throughout the history of the U.S. Military, starting from the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 to today, with an emphasis on the price of freedom.” The parade will also feature “a heavy air component at the end of the parade, to include older aircraft as available.” There’s no estimate of the costs.
One major element that will be missing from the festivities: tanks. This is not, apparently, because their presence would conjure visions of some autocratic post-Soviet republic, but simply because of worries that they would cause damage to Washington’s streets. (The Trump administration is known, after all, for its committment to America’s cities.)
It’s true that, as Eric Levitz has pointed out, a parade with all the fixings would not be nearly as out of step with everyday American jingoism as many critics might suggest. And tanks did indeed make an appearance during the country’s last military parade, which celebrated victory in the first Gulf War. Still, the sight of the vehicles rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue in 2018 with a certain wannabe tyrant at the helm of the country would no doubt be a jarring experience.
Let’s be thankful for the vulnerable condition of the roads in our nation’s capital.