Pulse: Americans oppose military parade

A "recruiting parade" in New York City, 1917.
A "recruiting parade" in New York City, 1917.
Image: Bain News Service, via Library of Congress.
Nearly two-thirds of Americans surveyed oppose President Donald Trump’s proposal to hold a military parade such the demonstration of armed muscle he viewed in France.

   The Quinnipiac University survey found 61 percent of American voters disapprove of Trump's plan for a military parade. "Every listed party, gender, education, age and racial group disapproves except Republicans, who approve 58-24 percent," the university reports. And 75 percent of voters, including 52 percent of Republicans, say the estimated $10 million to $30 million price tag for the parade is not a good use of government funds.
    In American culture, military parades are typically used to recruit or inspire troops at the beginning of a war, to celebrate or commemorate the end of a war or to celebrate achievement on military installations (a group of young people becoming officers, for example). But the most notable parades are homecoming celebrations marking the end of a war. Here are some examples:
  • The Grand Review of the Armies, May 23 and 24, 1865. More than 145,000 Union soldiers paraded along Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., in what The New York Times reported was a “a review of the gallant armies.” Five weeks had passed since the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. President Andrew Johnson viewed the parade, along with Lt. Gen. Ulysses Grant, according to the nonprofit  Civil War Trust.
  • Sept. 10, 1919: The Great War ended on Nov. 11, 1918. A year later, the last combat troops were returning home, and millions gathered in New York City to celebrate. The parade of soldiers included Gen. John J. Pershing, commander in chief of the American Expeditionary Force, according to The New York Times 
  • Jan. 12, 1946: This occasion celebrated the end of World War II, and Sherman tanks rolled down a four-and-a-half-mile parade route in New York. The parade paid tribute to the 82nd Airborne Division, according to a news report of the time (see video below).
  • June 8, 1991: A National Victory Celebration Parade was held in Washington, D.C., with President George H.W. Bush in attendance, to mark the end of the Gulf War. It featured troops and military weapons moving down Constitution Avenue, according to a report on C-Span.


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