Washington Prepares For President Trump’s Speech On The Fourth Of July

Remembering The ‘Bonus Army’: When Tanks Rolled Into Washington, D.C., To Roll Over Unemployed War Veterans

Jonathan Vankin - Author
By

Jul. 4 2019, Updated 2:26 p.m. ET

As part of Donald Trump’s “Salute to America” Fourth of July extravaganza, military tanks appeared in Washington, D.C. In this case, a pair of two M1A2 Abrams tanks, which weigh 73 tons each, according to the United States Army, as well as Bradley tanks moved in. The appearance of the tanks marks the first time that tanks have rolled through the streets of the nation’s capital city since 1991.

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The last time tanks rolled through Washington, as The Los Angeles Times reported, on June 8, 1991, came under the presidency of George H.W. Bush as part of a “victory parade” following the end of the first Iraq war. But even then, though 200,000 spectators showed up to view the military parade, some veterans found the display of military hardware inappropriate, with one telling The Times he felt that the parade was “sort of a campaign boost for Bush and the Republicans.”

The same criticism has been made of Trump’s July 4 event, at which he is scheduled to give a speech expected to be so political in nature that Slate legal correspondent Dahlia Lithwick questioned whether the speech may actually be an illegal violation of the Hatch Act.

Tanks have also appeared in Washington as part of several presidential inaugurations, though not since 1961, according to USA Today, when they were paraded through the streets for the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy.

But the first time that tanks appeared in Washington, D.C., they were used for a more violent purpose — to drive out a group of American military war veterans who came to Washington to protest over unpaid bonuses, as, USHistory.org chronicles, with the rout led by one of the United States’ most famous generals, Douglas MacArthur.

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