Military parade plan for national holiday deepens US divisions

World Today

U.S President Donald Trump will fulfill one of the goals of his presidency this Thursday when Washington DC marks Independence Day with a military parade, the first in the U.S. capital since the 1991 Gulf War.

Trump calls it a ‘Salute to America,’ but critics said he’s trying to shift the focus from the nation’s birthday celebration to himself. CGTN’S Owen Fairclough reports.

Final preparations for an Independence Day with the world’s most powerful military the star attraction were underway in Washington D.C. on Wednesday.

The centerpiece: a military parade through the center of the capital with flyovers and even stationary tanks.

The aim is ostensibly to honor the armed forces.

But it’s also a chance for President Donald Trump to promote his ‘America first’ agenda, as he outlined earlier in the week at the White House.

“We’re making a lot of new tanks right now,”Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.

” We’re building a lot of new tanks in Lima, Ohio. A great tank factory and that people wanted to close down until I got elected and I stopped it from being closed down, and now it’s a very productive facility and…it’s the greatest tank in the world – the Abrams.”

Previous presidents such as John F. Kennedy enjoyed military parades for their inauguration – and tanks were even used to put down demonstrations in the capital in 1932.

But opposition lawmakers say Trump is using tanks and military pageantry to hijack what should be an apolitical celebration as he eyes re-election next year.

And some critics are comparing the idea unfavorably with similar parades in countries like Russia and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – though Trump was inspired by witnessing the pageantry of France’s Bastille Day celebrations two years ago.

As well as the divisive imagery of tanks on the streets of the U.S. capital, there’s also the cost the White House hasn’t revealed.

But Trump abandoned plans for a military parade to mark Veterans Day last year when a cost estimate of more than 90 million dollars caused public uproar.

Even so, at the famous Lincoln Memorial in Washington, we found only approval for the President, with one man telling us: “We’re the greatest military power in the world; why shouldn’t we show that?”

Another said: “This country has been divided for the last 20 years. I hope we can do something that can bring us together.”

A plea for unity for an event intended to bring Americans together during a deeply polarized era.