I cannot stand silent. I must speak out against the desecration of the Lincoln Memorial and the National Mall that is about to unfold tomorrow night as President Trump orchestrates his multi-million dollar "Salute to America," which is really a "Salute to Himself."
You've read elsewhere about the high cost of this extravaganza, far more costly than the traditional Independence Day celebrations on our National Mall in Washington, DC. You've read, no doubt about how $2.5 million in national parks entrance fees will be used to help defray those costs -- money that is supposed to be used to maintain our treasured parks, not for a parade to stroke the ego of a deranged, self-centered, ego-maniacal would-be dictator.
Yes, all of that is horrible. It is wrong. But to use the Lincoln Memorial and the National Mall for what will amount to a political rally for thousands of his supporters, with members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at his side, is unspeakable.
The young mayor of South Bend, IN, Pete Buttigieg, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, said it better today on CNN than perhaps any commentator that I've heard.
“We’ve always been bigger than that," he said, referring to the need to roll tanks and otherwise use the military in a parade to demonstrate strength. "We’ve also been the kind of country that respects our military enough not to use them as props. Think about the strongest, toughest person you know. It’s probably not a person who goes around talking about how strong or tough they are.”
“I think the president’s trying to honor himself, and, again, my worry is it ultimately makes us look smaller,” he added.
An Afghanistan War veteran, Buttigieg said the president is using the military as “ornaments for his ego or for his agenda,” and said it isn't the first time, citing the Pentagon’s deployment of troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to try to deter illegal crossings.
“The whole idea of civilian control of the military is that there’s going to be some kind of separation, and trying to enlist people in uniform to decorate his political agenda just diminishes the military that so many serve in without regard to politics or favor,” he said.
“Put troops out there so we can thank them — leave tanks for Red Square,” Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, according to The New York Times. Zinni is a retired four-star Marine general and former head of United States Central Command, who previously served in the Trump administration as a special envoy to help resolve disputes in the Persian Gulf.
I've been to July 4 celebrations on the National Mall in the past, and never have they been used to advance the cause of any president or any political party. That is how it should be. We are not North Korea, where a cruel dictator stands as his military marches past in review, complete with tanks, rockets, and other instruments of war.
Or is that what we are becoming under this president?