I am not a fan of wasting money — not in my house, town, state or country.
It is reasonable to believe that we all vote our self-interest before anything else and we may not see eye-to-eye on all fiscal priorities, but I am willing to lay a dollar (my bets are small) that we might agree that our military women and men deserve the best armor, guns and all the needed training they can get.
Our planes and ships should be the best, bar none. I am leaving aside the idea that we need more nuclear arms, since we can blow the hell out of our beloved planet many times over and life will not be worth living for anyone.
And I am unstinting when it comes to service pay, preparedness, housing and health care before and after service for the veteran and spouse and kids. They give us a cushy and safe life.
But now Trump wants to siphon off money so that he can have a military parade and is using the fig leaf of respect and honor. The president should know better.
Some disagree, as expressed on NBC by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., when he tweeted a jab at the idea of a parade, saying that he would support it if “it’s to celebrate bringing our young men and women home from these unauthorized wars overseas.”
Gen. Mattis asserts that it is Trump’s love and respect for the armed services that prompts this, but I am thinking it was Bastille Day and President Macron’s annual parade. That is their tradition, but it should not be ours.
We have been, and still are, the big dog in the military kennel. Sure, China and Russia are filling the gaps we keep opening in economics and diplomacy, but there is no doubt we have the best military and citizen soldiers.
I think one of our greatest strengths is that we quietly, for decades, have just kept our big dog in the cage and let it out when needed. Sometimes we have crushed our opponents, sometimes bolstered our allies, and sometimes we have found our choices not as good and came home.
There is nothing wrong with leaving a field of battle if it is the right and moral decision. Sometimes we stay merely to maintain stability in a region that profits us in the long run.
We do not, like the Soviets of old and the Russia of now, parade our strength like a teenage boy, strutting around to show how big he is. Kim Jong-un has parades and bullies and does not feed his people.
We know real strength is quiet, like the Samurai or fighting Zen master. We can move swiftly and with skill, and it is better to have a parade at the end of a full war rather than on a whim. We have yet to know the numbers on the cost of this parade. The last one, over 25 years ago, cost $8 million at the end of Desert Storm.
This is really meant to make Trump feel regal. His surrogates say it is an expression of his devotion to his troops — troops he actively chose not to join as a young man.
When men and women cannot get help with PTSD, when vets wait for hours or travel many miles to see doctors, when mothers and wives, fathers and husbands must quit their jobs with little help and no compensation to care for their severely damaged soldier, a parade is insulting and useless.
We are talking about bringing many big tanks, trucks, battalions of all services, fly-overs, men, women, bands and who knows what else for a march down a regular city street.
What is the gas cost, transport cost, feeding cost, infrastructure cost to repair the roads once all of this happens? What about the security cost? All for what? And which budget does this money come from?
Here’s what honoring looks like: best training, best armaments, decent pay, great after-service health care, support for disabled families, support for spouses, decent housing, bringing home service members from areas we no longer should be in.
It looks like rape assistance and no tolerance for abuse in any branch of the service, and helping them find jobs after service, making citizens if they serve and are immigrants no matter how they got here.
That is honoring their life, their stress and their devotion.
This parade is not for them.