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Military parades! Bands! Tanks! Some thoughts on Independence Day and Trump

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Cadets of the École Polytechnique parade through Paris on July 14, 2010, looking like what U.S. President Donald Trump presumably imagines he will see in Washington today (Photo: Jérémy Barande, Wikimedia Commons.)

Today is Independence Day, the Fourth of July, best known in Canada as the setting for the country gothic hit of the same name but, of course, also our cacophonous cousins' national holiday.

The occasion nominally marks the 243rd anniversary of the Declaration of Independence by the citizens of the great constitutional republic with which we share the world's longest undefended border, on July 4, 1776. We wish our neighbours as happy and peaceful a celebration as possible given the present fractious state of their affairs, with gunfire of only a celebratory nature.

Nevertheless, Canadians could be forgiven if some of them reached the conclusion the foundational American holiday really has been set aside to commemorate the domestic fireworks described in Martina McBride's 1994 hit, penned by Gretchen Peters, only within an increasingly unhinged continental family of 330 million members.

If the whole affair ends up with someone's residence burnt to the ground, we can only hope that the flames don't spread across the border -- because, of course, the political derangement that has possessed the our neighbours has no shortage of those similarly afflicted among our compatriots as well.

Well, at least no one here is yet clamouring for a military parade on the scale of the Défilé militaire du 14 juillet, as has been the wish of America's would-be Caligula, tweeter-in-chief Donald J. Trump, since he witnessed the famed Bastille Day Parade in Paris in 2017.

Trump was thwarted in this aspiration last year -- presumably in roughly equal parts by American military brass who recognize that notwithstanding their renowned military prowess, the majority of their troops don't exactly march like the Governor General's Foot Guards, and the suitably bureaucratic administration of the District of Columbia -- and vowed to try again today.

Now that unhappy day has come and, alas for Trump, the event is certain to be a disappointment when compared with the Paris military spectacle 10 days hence, if only because the French, nauseating militarists that they are to their Gallic bones, have been practicing almost every year on this date since 1880. (There were only a few missed performances in the 1940s, thanks to their neighbours, who as a consequence no longer do military parades with much enthusiasm, as befits the citizens of a born-again democracy.)

In addition, the budget for Trump's cobbled-together military defile is likely to be paltry compared to the French affair, which nowadays usually features about 8,000 smartly turned-out troops, including the members of Paris's fire brigade (a branch of military service), some fine singers (found right at the end of this video), not to mention numerous rumbling tanks and military aircraft above.

There's also the problem of the United States' neglected and crumbling infrastructure, which even in Washington, D.C. is presumably not up to withstanding the weight of a 69-ton Abrams tank, not to mention one of those "brand new Sherman tanks," Trump has promised. (Note to readers who don't follow this sort of stuff: the last Sherman rolled off an American assembly line in July 1945. Easy mistake to make, though, if you suffer from bone spurs.)

So the infighting about who will suffer the brunt of the presidential temper tantrum, has already begun, with The New York Times reporting yesterday that "administration officials began pointing fingers at one another and assigning blame in case of disappointing attendance or any other unforeseen complications."

It is said here that Trump would have been smarter to sub-contract the whole affair to someone with more experience organizing large military parades. While the French are otherwise occupied preparing for their own, and the Chinese are now engaged in a trade war with Trump, there are nevertheless other leaders and countries with plenty of experience in such matters.

Trump's bromantic partners Kim Jong-Un and Vladimir Putin both have experience presiding over impressive military parades, for example.

Indeed, Putin -- who is said by some to have already helped Trump with his campaign strategy in 2016 -- was host to a parade by roughly 14,000 smartly marching troops in Moscow's Red Square on May 9, known locally as Victory Day. Surely President Putin could be persuaded to lend a hand and an Armata tank or two, at least in a consultative role!

On the other hand, if that can't be organized on short notice, I suppose Trump can just revert to standard operating procedure and lie about the quality of the marching and the size of the crowd.

David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with The Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca

Photo: Jérémy Barande/Wikimedia Commons

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