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Our view: Parade idea doesn't deserve vicious attacks

Herald editorial board

In May 1865, just a month after the assassination of President Lincoln, one of this nation's great spectacles took place in Washington, D.C.

The Grand Review began May 23 and lasted through the next day. It saw more than 140,000 soldiers march down the streets of Washington, D.C., led by Maj. Gen. William Sherman, the leader of western forces, and Maj. Gen. George Meade, who headed the Army of the Potomac.

A highlight came when Maj. Gen. George Custer lost control of his horse — some say it was an intentional act of theatrics — and raced down the street in front of the review stand. Once he gained control of the supposedly wild steed near the president's stand, the general gallantly gave a low bow, drawing great applause from the crowd.

Some 200,000 attended, welcoming the soldiers as the heroes they were.

Is that the scene President Trump is trying create with his proposed military parade in Washington?

On the surface, it seems the answer is yes, and the idea therefore is a good one. Why not promote America's military with a modern and grand review down the streets of the nation's capital? It could do wonders for recruiting while also paying respect to current and past servicemen and women.

When we heard the price tag — $12 million — it somewhat dampened our enthusiasm, although we still like the idea. Yet the president has been bashed for proposing it, and that's unfair.

President Trump seems to be a great booster of this country's military and the White House has described the proposed parade as a celebration in honor of the armed forces. Yet the president has been viciously criticized for supposedly proposing the parade only to stroke his ego.

The U.S. hasn't had a proper military review since troops returned home from the Gulf War in 1991, yet Americans obviously love this type of thing. We cheer when military men and women march in small-town parades every Fourth of July and roar with approval when military aircraft fly over, say, a sporting event. When veterans are introduced locally — at UND hockey games, for instance — the crowd often gives a standing ovation.

So considering this evidence, could it be possible the president simply wants to organize an event to ceremoniously and sincerely celebrate and promote America's military?

It's true, $12 million is a lot of money, although it's still just a tiny fraction (.00002) of the military's $600 billion annual budget. It's also cheaper than the price of manufacturing a single nuclear warhead.

A 30-second ad during the Super Bowl cost $5 million. Wouldn't an hours-long parade with national media coverage therefore be worth the cost in military recruiting potential?

Yes, there are many places that could use that kind of government money. And yes, vicious political partisanship means little of substance can ever be accomplished without debate.

If economics are the issue, we can live without a military parade. But we don't believe it's fair to say ego is the genesis for proposing it.

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