Picturing a progressive military parade

By: D.G. Martin - Contributing columnist

I love a parade.

So maybe I should be supportive of President Trump’s suggestion for a big military parade sometime later this year.

The president’s idea has not gotten universal approval. Some argue that the money spent for a parade would be better used to beef up our defense capability.

On the other hand, parades have always been a part of the military experience. They serve a number of purposes, including armed forces’ public relations, learning experiences for the troops, and an opportunity to build esprit de corps.

President Trump seems to have in mind something like the Bastille Day parade he saw in France when he visited President Macron last year. The shiny, well-dressed French soldiers and sailors apparently wowed our president.

That kind of parade would be fine, I guess, but I would rather the president have something other than the spit and polish version he saw in France or the dark, loaded-weapons filled parades of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president is “exploring different ways that he can highlight and show the pride that we have in the military, the people that have served and sacrificed to allow us all the freedoms that we have.”

So, maybe the president would consider a different kind of parade, one that would celebrate the rich experience and traditions of the American military and celebrate our country’s unique and progressive experience.

Instead of a corps of spit-and-polish soldiers, tanks, and rocket launchers, think of an event that might be more like a community holiday parade.

The leading elements of the parade could be still be traditional with smartly attired soldiers, sailors, and Air Force men and women, Marines and Coast Guard in small groups.

But they would be supplemented by other groups.

The parade could include veterans from our recent wars including the Korean War, Vietnam, the Middle East and even our World War II veterans, especially because there will not be many more opportunities for us to honor them before they are all gone.

Not to leave out important experiences that many Americans have as new recruits, the parade could feature a unit of brand-new inductees, pointing to how much the training experience will benefit them.

A group of marching military men and women who were born in other countries would be a reminder of their important contributions to their adopted country.

Wounded veterans bravely parading their way on crutches, in wheelchairs and otherwise struggling, but struggling successfully, to be a part of our country’s life, would give us the opportunity to thank them for their service and celebrate their bravery and determination.

To recognize the services’ role in expanding opportunities for blacks and women and their contributions to our nation’s defense, groups of them could take special places in the event.

To show the services’ new diversity and the legitimization of the roles of gay and lesbian soldiers and sailors, a detachment representing them could march together. Carrying the flags of their units and also a flag of a gender advocacy group would give an opportunity for the nation to recognize and accept the contribution of these soldiers and sailors.

Including children of military personnel serving overseas would celebrate the sacrifice of families of servicemen and women and assert that the country has not forgotten them. It would celebrate and thank the many organizations that support these families while their loved ones are away.

Finally, to make this parade truly special and representative of the American military experience, the highest-ranking generals and the president himself might march in the parade rather than simply reviewing it from sheltered stands.

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Sundays at noon and Thursdays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV.

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D.G. Martin

Contributing columnist