President Donald Trump demanded a military parade for his inauguration and he didn't get it. Now it appears he's wanted one ever since.
As other world leaders tapped into the secret desires of the self-described billionaire, he was invited to witness the Bastille Day festivities in Paris. When he arrived in China, the president was met with hundreds of cheering fans handing him flowers. As the stock market takes a nosedive and the Russian investigation marches on, Trump is demanding the streets of Washington, D.C. be filled with tanks.
The White House tried to cover the request by claiming that it had nothing to do with the president's ego, as generals and one Rear Admiral assessed. Instead, the White House claims it's for the troops. Despite celebrations for Memorial Day, Veterans Day and other military holidays, the White House wants a parade to celebrate the troops with tanks rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue like a propaganda reel released by North Korea.
While many speculate that the demand has nothing to do with the military, his supporters are proclaiming patriotism and demanding the president's parade to celebrate America and those who fight for it.
Developing a budget for something of that magnitude has been complicated since it's never been done. The closest the U.S. came to a parade like the ones Kim Jong-Un also demands, was in 1991 when the first Iraq War ended. That parade cost $12 million at the time. Adjusted for inflation, that ticket would look closer to $21 million today.
The problem Washington, D.C. city officials have had with the proposal is the news that a series of tanks weighing 62 metric tons would roll through the streets, effectively destroying the pavement. Pennsylvania Avenue was just resurfaced in the past year and this would require another resurfacing. The cost of doing so runs about $4 million for one mile a four-lane road. Penn is a six-lane road in most places and stretches just under six miles in the District. The cost would be easily over $25 million.
Another factor for a large-scale parade is security. If millions of Americans are expected to ascend upon Washington to watch the president's party, the security would likely be akin to what is done for the inauguration every four years. In January 2016, about 28,000 personnel from three dozen state, local and federal agencies, including the Secret Service, the F.B.I. and the National Guard, worked to ensure the safety of those in Washington for the Inauguration. It is the largest ticket item for each inauguration and Trump's price tag came in at $100 million.
It's unknown how much the whole ordeal will cost, but the Washington Post gave a detailed description for parts of it. They've left out the staffing for the National Guard, who would normally be off on July 4, as well as the fuel cost for the planes to fly to Washington. The National Park Service is being forced to reallocate $2.5 million at a time their budgets are being slashed.
If the White House, and indeed the president, truly want to honor veterans and American soldiers, here is a list of nine options we could give them other than Trump's military parade.
1. Homes for homeless veterans.
For the cost of Trump's military parade, the United States taxpayers could buy a nice tiny home at $10,000 each, for 14,500 of the 150,000 homeless veterans. However, there are even more affordable tiny homes available at $3,000 to 4,000, which means we could easily give homes to 39,189 homeless vets.
2. Feed homeless veterans.
For the cost of Trump's military parade, he could feed every single homeless veteran in the United States three meals a day for a year. If he wanted to.
3. Buy a nice job interview suit.
For the cost of Donald Trump's military parade you could buy a nice suit from the Men's Warehouse for every single homeless veteran in the United States so they could go on job interviews.
4. Buy a pair of jeans.
If a suit isn't what is needed, for the price of Trump's military parade we could also buy a pair of Levi's 501 jeans for every single homeless veteran, every year, for 20 years.
5. Add in shoes.
We could also buy a jeans and a new pair of Converse sneakers every year for 10 years for every homeless veteran.
6. We could give mental health services.
For the cost of Trump's military parade we could pay for a therapy session every other week for 60,000 veterans for a year.
7. Education for a new career.
Instead of Trump's military parade we could pay for 15,000 homeless veterans to get a certification to be an electrician or a wind power technician, which could help them earn enough to be in the middle class.
8. We could send care packages for soldiers fighting the war on terror.
For the cost of Trump's military parade we could send a care package to all soldiers stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria every week for 106 years. Seriously.
9. We could also send a box to every soldier over seas.
If we didn't want to isolate the ones fighting above and focus on all soldiers, we could send a care package to every single one of the 1.3 million members of the military stationed abroad every week for 2 years (and 1 month), all for the same cost of Trump's military parade.
If Trump and his supporters want to pretend that the soldiers and our veterans are the ones who deserve honor and respect, we should probably begin by funding things that are actually needed, not grad displays of so-called patriotism. Over 150,000 veterans sleep on the streets. Some are homeless while it's in the single-digit-cold with brutal wind chills. Some are desperately trying to fight post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction and other health problems. Others spent so much time fighting for the country the hardly have the energy left to fight for themselves. Americans could be doing that. If we wanted to.