President Trump’s plans to preside over, speak at, and dictate specifics of 4th of July festivities in Washington, D.C., have been met with widespread criticism that Trump is trying to make the holiday about him instead of about the country, that Trump is politicizing what is supposed to be a non-partisan holiday, and that his plans have added greatly to the cost paid by taxpayers for the celebration. The latest sticking point is Trump’s insistence on having military tanks in D.C. during the festivities, something Trump had also wanted for a military parade he wanted to have last year, but which was cancelled after its $92+ million price tag was revealed. Trump’s minions are apparently scrambling to fulfill his wish that tanks be present, and Trump as late as this afternoon has indicated that tanks will be present, but those tanks could badly damage roads and other infrastructure.
This led the Washington, D.C. Council to tweet an objection today, writing, “We have said it before, and we’ll say it again: Tanks, but no tanks. (PS: The @DeptofDefense agrees, see highlighted area below)”. The memorandum pictured in the tweet is in regard to plans for that military parade that fell through last year and comes from the Joints Chiefs of Staff, with the key line from the memo being “Include wheeled vehicles only, no tanks – consideration must be given to minimize damage to local infrastructure”.
Trump is planning to give a speech at the Lincoln Memorial on the 4th, a choice that has necessitated moving the fireworks from the National Mall, where the Lincoln Memorial is located, to West Potomac Park. Just this afternoon Trump again asserted that there will be tanks at the event, although he did at least acknowledge the infrastructure damage they might cause. Hopefully that acknowledgement means that if there are tanks, they will be brought in on wheeled vehicles, brought close to a spot where they will remain stationary for the duration, and simply offloaded. Whether that is what will happen is not clear, however. According to The Hill:
President Trump said Monday there will be military tanks on display on the National Mall for this week’s Independence Day celebration. “We’re going to have some tanks stationed outside,” Trump said during a bill signing in the Oval Office. “You’ve got to be pretty careful with the tanks because the roads have a tendency not to like to carry heavy tanks. So we have to put them in certain areas.” He went on to tout production of tanks at a factory in Lima, Ohio, which he visited earlier this year. The Washington Post first reported earlier Monday that administration officials were scrambling to fulfill Trump’s request to have tanks or other armored military vehicles incorporated into a “Salute to America” event on Thursday.
A pair of veterans groups are planning to hand out USS John McCain t-shirts during Trump’s speech, as a creative form of protest meant to vex Trump. They aren’t the only ones to object to Trump inserting himself in festivities that are supposed to be about the country, not partisan politics, and not Trump. Representative Don Beyer (D-VA) made a set of scathing remarks about Trump’s tank plans on Twitter, writing, “Risking damage to local infrastructure and dumping huge piles of taxpayer money onto the never-ending bonfire of Donald Trump’s vanity. My constituents and the other people who live here overwhelmingly do NOT want this. This celebration is about US independence, not Trump’s ego.”
As Beyer wrote, this is supposed to be “about U.S. independence, not Trump’s ego”, but unfortunately Trump, by inserting himself in the celebrations and conforming them to his wishes is making it about himself, about his ego. And the cost to taxpayers will be greatly magnified due to his presence, which creates many security issues.