Donald Trump’s plans for a military parade are back on again, this time as part of a Fourth of July celebration that will also include flyovers by military aircraft, and an address by Trump himself, Yahoo News reports. Critics say the president is taking a traditional, non-partisan celebration and making it all about him.
For years, Trump has been angling for a military parade in the United States, after having seen one in France and wondering why that isn’t done here. In 2018, plans for a military parade, to be held on Veterans Day that year, started to materialize. However, as CNBC reported at the time, those plans were pushed back to 2019 after the staggering cost — an estimated $92 million — became apparent.
The idea of a military parade died down shortly after that, but at his Orlando rally to officially kick off his 2020 election bid, Trump brought it up again, encouraging his supporters to bring American flags to the event.
He also brought it up to his cabinet on Tuesday, according to USA Today. “[July 4] could be an exciting day,” he said.
This time, plans include the traditional fireworks, live musical performances, and other pomp and circumstance that traditionally mark the Fourth of July in Washington. In Trump’s vision, it would also include a “military-themed parade,” a flyover by Air Force One, and a special address by Trump himself, to be delivered at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time from the Lincoln Memorial. What is meant by “military-themed parade” remains unclear.
The Trump administration is planning a costly Independence Day speech at the Lincoln Memorial, despite its failure to pay off $7 million in debt from the 2017 inauguration, The Washington Post reports https://t.co/8juE8h8qEl— CNN (@CNN) June 14, 2019
Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, whose agency oversees Washington’s monuments, is on board with the idea.
“There is no more appropriate place to celebrate the anniversary of American independence than among the Nation’s monuments on the National Mall and the memorials,” he said.
Critics, however, aren’t as enthusiastic. Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson, for example, accuses Trump of making the national holiday’s celebration all about him.
“Our founders were ready to give their lives for this country and that’s what we celebrate on the Fourth of July. Donald Trump wants to basically cancel the nonpartisan celebration of America and force us to celebrate him, instead,” Ferguson argued.
Similarly, Trump critic William Kristol noted earlier this year that Richard Nixon tried, and failed, to make the 1970’s Fourth of July celebration in Washington all about him. The event was marred by protesters staging a marijuana “smoke-in.” Police tried to disperse the protesters using tear gas, but instead, the wind blew it into the crowd trying to enjoy the festivities.
There’s another hitch as well: Trump’s campaign still owes millions to the City of Washington for costs associated with his inauguration. In order to cover those bills, Washington city officials had to pull money out of a fund that’s typically used to cover emergencies, as CNN reports.