A military parade through Washington, D.C., honoring the service and sacrifice of the armed forces is long overdue, said a Bay State veterans’ group leader, as criticism of President Trump’s idea mounted yesterday.
“It would be a sign of respect and another way to show appreciation for our vets,” said John A. MacDonald, spokesman and board member of Vets Assisting Vets.
“We do it at bases across the country already,” the Lowell Air Force veteran, who served in Desert Storm, said last night. “It shows taxpayers where our money is being spent. It’s more about a sense of American pride and patriotism.
“Some people feel showing patriotism is a bad thing these days,” MacDonald, who’s also running for state Senate in his Lowell district, added. “But it shouldn’t be. Not only would a parade show what our country is doing here but also in other countries.”
Trump has directed the Pentagon to draft options for a massive march — one that would rival the Bastille Day celebration he witnessed in Paris last year.
His show of force was met with critics from both parties yesterday.
Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin called it a “fantastic waste of money,” while Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told CNN that the parade risked being “kind of cheesy and a sign of weakness” if it’s just about showing off military muscle.
Social media also lit up well into the night with comments on both sides. Some supported the idea, saying the parade would be a sign of “standing up for U.S.,” while others criticized it as another case of Trump bragging about his nuclear button.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the president’s desire for a massive parade reflects his pride in the military.
“We’ve been putting together some options. We’ll send them up to the White House for a decision,” Mattis said as reporters peppered him with questions at the White House. “The president’s respect, his fondness for the military I think is reflected in him asking for these options.”
Chris Lessard, a Newton firefighter and Marine combat veteran of Iraq who has been active in veterans’ causes, said of the criticism of the parade, “I think it’s a knee-jerk reaction to who is proposing it. If you remove the politics, what’s the harm?”
Lessard said, however, he has questions about cost and logistics, and added, “I hope it is not a show of force, rather to represent the military and the sacrifices they have made.”
Gold Star father Steven Sammis of Rehoboth, whose son Marine Capt. Benjamin Sammis was killed in Iraq in 2003, said, “I will support anything that honors the sacrifices of our armed forces.” Referring to the generals now serving in the Trump administration, he said, “Let Jim Mattis, (Joint Chiefs Chairman) Joe Dunford say whether it will go forward. Let (White House Chief of Staff) John Kelly say whether it will go forward. They are extremely intelligent. They are charged with carrying out the directives of the chief executive, who is Donald Trump, and they are doing a hell of a job.”
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said there had been no final decision. And Trump’s legislative director said it was too early to even guess about potential costs, though it’s assumed it would cost millions.
Military flyovers are common at sporting events, and soldiers routinely march at presidential inaugurations — including former President Barack Obama’s. In June 1991, after the Gulf War, as Americans gave veterans of Operation Desert Storm a triumphant welcome home. Some 8,000 veterans marched along with tanks that trudged down a flag-festooned Constitution Avenue as fighter planes roared over the National Mall, before a crowd of about 800,000. Then-President George H.W. Bush declared it a “great day.”
Herald wire services contributed to this report.
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