It may not be the parade he wanted, but Donald Trump may finally get the chance to show off some of the military's hardware in the nation's capital.
The Defense Department is working on a request from the White House to have static displays of military vehicles and an F-35 flyover for the July 4th “Salute to America” in Washington, D.C., Task & Purpose has learned. No decisions have been made yet about what type of vehicles could be used.
The event is separate from the annual National Independence Day Parade, according to the Interior Department.
“Salute to America will honor each of the nation's five service branches with music, military demonstrations, multiple flyovers including a flight demonstration by the Blue Angels and much more,” a June 28 Interior Department news release says. “Participants include the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, the U.S. Army Band ('Pershing's Own'), the Armed Forces Chorus, the United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Team, and many others.”
The White House did not provide a comment on Monday for this story. The Washington Post first reported about the Defense Department's role in the military-themed event.
Having military equipment on display for the Salute to America provides an opportunity to bridge the gap between civilians and service members, according to AMVETS.
“We are still suffering a low military recruitment problem, largely because too many Americans have no real relationship with the military,” AMVETS said in a statement to Task & Purpose.
“As long as we ensure that we are not using military equipment or personnel that would affect national security or military readiness, this could be an excellent opportunity to celebrate America's independence by promoting those who we have to thank for it.”
However, former Pentagon spokesman George Little said he believes:
“It is important that we celebrate our armed forces, but the 4th of July should be reserved to celebrate the software of our democratic ideals and freedoms, not the hardware of the world's finest military,” Little told Task & Purpose on Monday.
For his part, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) argued that a military spectacle was a misuse of resources, telling Task & Purpose, “This Independence Day, the president should give as many of our service members as possible liberty to celebrate with their families, instead of making our armed forces perform for him.”
Moulton, who is one of the two dozen Democrats running for president in 2020, is a Marine veteran who deployed to Iraq four times.
“Parades are expensive, and I'd rather see this money be used for military pay, family benefits, or mental health care,” Moulton said. “I expect the Department of Defense to submit the costs of supporting the White House requests for the event to Congress, and explain any impacts to the readiness of our armed forces this decision will have.”
UPDATE: This story was updated on July 1 with comments from Rep. Seth Moulton.