The Thinker: Rich Galen


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About That Parade

Rich Galen

Thursday February 8, 2017

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  • Why does the Trump White House have so much trouble making political points? Take the proposal for a military parade.

  • What if the idea of a parade had not been raised by Donald Trump, but by a joint statement issued by veterans organizations: The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, and any of the dozens of other organizations who focus on the men and women who have served in uniform.

  • Would that make you think differently about it?

  • It doesn't have to look like a parade in Pyongyang, or through Red Square in Moscow. It doesn't have to have rows and rows of real or simulated nuclear missiles and it doesn't even have to have ranks and columns of asphalt-grinding Abrams tanks rolling down Constitution Avenue.

  • We don't need troops who goose-step down the route and our highest military officers (and civilian authorities) don't dress anything like North Korean Generals or George C. Scott in "Patton."

  • A parade could have Humvees full of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardians and Marines who fought in Korea and/or Vietnam and who never got so much as a "Welcome Home" much less a "Thank You" parade.

  • A kid who was 17 when he went to Korea in 1950 would be 85 today. Maybe we'll let him ride.

  • It could have veterans of the first Iraq war - the one where we rescued the people of Kuwait from Saddam Hussein's invasion - marching in the same columns as men and women who have been fighting from Africa to Southwest Asia since 9/11.

  • As a really smart guy once told me: "There is no such thing as a World War for an infantry soldier. There is only you with your weapon and the guy facing you with his weapon."

  • But it would cost soooo much!

  • From C-SPAN June 8, 1991:
    Bands played, troops marched, flags flew, and military weaponry and equipment rolled down Constitution Avenue during the $12 million National Victory Celebration Parade in Washington, DC.

    Stealth bombers, Patriot missiles, tanks, and other military hardware were featured in the parade, as were hundreds of troops from the war.

  • According to NBC's calculations, $12 million in 1991 would equate to about $21 million in 2018 dollars.

  • Let's agree that an estimate that the FY2018 military budget (the one before we see what happens this week in the Congress) is about $850 billion, all in. The percentage of a $21 million parade would be .00254%.

  • If we translated that percentage to the national median family income in 2017 - about $60,000 - that would be like spending $15.24.

  • Total.

  • Not $15.24 million, but fifteen dollars and twenty-four cents. For the whole thing.

  • Who would be opposed to putting on a parade for veterans and active duty service members if it only cost $15.24?

  • In Old Town Alexandria, Virginia where Mullings Central is located, we have a parade, it seems, every four days.

  • Parades in honor of everyone from George Washington to Maewyn Succat (also known as St. Patrick), Scottish Walks, 10k runs, art fairs - all manner of reasons to close the streets without first informing me that I might have to walk to Landini's for my regular Saturday Bloody Mary (also known as a Bloody Mary).

  • I am a life-member of the American Legion. As regular Mullsters know I served more-or-less honorably for six years in the New Jersey and Ohio Army National Guards, rising to the lofty rank of E-4.

  • I would gladly pitch in .0025% of my 2017 income to help put on a parade - even for another parade in Old Town Alexandria - to celebrate the men and women who have served and are still serving.

  • We could have the parade on November 11, 2018. That happens to be the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I which (a) was known as "The Great War" before we knew we had to number World Wars and, (b) was promised, by British author H.G. Wells, to be the "War to end all war."

  • It was neither great nor the end. But, if we want to mark the date, a parade might be just the thing.

  • If Donald Trump gets to bask in the reflected glow well, that's just another minor price to pay.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A link to the C-SPAN coverage of that 1991 parade, another to the FY2018 Military Budget page I used, and photos of a North Korean General and George C. Scott's George Patton.

    The Mullfoto shows the path of space launches from Alan Shepard to yesterday's SpaceX Heavy Lift Rocket.

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