The Pentagon might have vetoed President Donald Trump’s idea of parading U.S. military vehicles across the streets of Washington during his inauguration festivities. But now he’s the commander in chief and talking about holding such a show of military might on July 4.
Trump floated the idea to reporters during a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, whom he joined in Paris in July for that country’s Bastille Day festivities. Trump was the VIP guest on the French president’s viewing stand for a parade of French military troops and equipment.
So impressed was Trump with the Bastille Day spectacle that he revealed Monday he has asked his chief of staff, retired Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, to look into planning a Bastille Day-like parade of U.S. military might on July 4.
“It was one of the greatest parades I have ever seen. It was two hours on the button and was military might,” Trump said, according to a pool report. “It was a tremendous thing for France and for the people of France. People don’t know what great warriors they are in France.”
“It was a tremendous thing, and to a large extent because of what I have seen, we may do that on July 4 down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington,” the U.S. president said.
“We’re going to have to try and top it,” he said of the French parade. “It was really a beautiful thing to see. It was really so well done. We’re actually thinking about Fourth of July having a really great parade to show our military strength.”
He later told reporters the event might occur as soon as the next Independence Day, adding it might take another year to plan.
Defense Department officials reportedly denied a request from Trump’s transition team to include heavy military vehicles in his inaugural parade from the Capitol to the White House. A major concern was the weight of the vehicles causing structural damage to Washington’s streets.
During a January interview with The Washington Post, President-elect Trump spoke of a desire to use such a parade “to display our military.”
“That military may come marching down Pennsylvania Avenue,” he said then. “That military may be flying over New York City and Washington, D.C., for parades. I mean, we’re going to be showing our military.”
Despite the Pentagon’s rejection of the idea before Trump was sworn in, there is one big difference now: As commander in chief, he is now the country’s top military official.