CARIBOU, Maine — The Pentagon is reportedly sketching plans at the behest of President Donald Trump for a military parade sometime this year to celebrate America’s armed forces.
The Associated Press quoted a White House official on Wednesday saying that while the administration hasn’t decided to go forward with it yet, the parade could cost between $10 million and $30 million depending on how long it is.
The idea of spending millions of dollars on the event elicited mixed reactions from military veterans and residents of Aroostook.
While some supporters of President Trump said they fully support the idea, others said they believe in Trump but not his idea. Others said that they would never go along with the suggestion, even though they support the military.
The United States has held military parades before, the last time being in 1991, when more than 8,000 troops marched down Washington D.C.’s Constitution Avenue in a victory parade. The procession celebrated the end of the Persian Gulf War, according to the Smithsonian Magazine. It was the biggest such parade since the end of World War II. The inauguration of President John F. Kennedy in 1961 also included a parade featuring dozens of missiles as well as soldiers and sailors aboard Navy boats towed along Pennsylvania Avenue, and President Dwight Eisenhower’s 1953 inaugural parade included 22,000 military service members.
Leo Webb, 52, of Caribou, supports Trump but “certainly not the parade,” he said on Tuesday. Webb retired from the Army as a staff sergeant after 20 years of service.
“This is not the first time I have disagreed with the president’s actions or statements,” he said, laughing. “I served, and I never asked for any more than what I was promised on the day I signed up. I was never promised a parade. It is a terrible waste of money when there are young men and women still fighting and dying for this country.”
Tim Robinson, a U.S. Navy veteran from Levant, feels differently.
He and his brother, Chris Robinson of Houlton, co-founded Wilderness Walk for Warriors, a group which journeys 120 miles over 10 days from downtown Monson to the summit of Katahdin each July. All of the funding raised through the hike goes toward veterans and service members. Tim Robinson said on Tuesday that he fully supports the idea of a parade.
Robinson served on two different aircraft carriers during the Persian Gulf War and afterward, joined the Army National Guard, deploying to Bosnia, Kuwait and twice to Iraq.
“I think it is high time we say thanks to the troops,” he said. “Look at the money we waste in this country on senseless things, and we are protesting spending money on a parade to thank the troops? The last time we did that in a parade was 27 years ago. I think that is ridiculous.”
Robinson also rejected sentiments that such large military processionals could be compared to the totalitarian parades held by Russian President Vladimir Putin or North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who favor them so that they can showcase their military might.
“I don’t see it as a show of force at all,” he said. “There have been a number of cuts to military troops and equipment over the past few years. If anything, the parade will show that.”
Jessica McMartin, 20, of Presque Isle, said Monday that she disagrees with the entire premise based solely on cost alone.
“There is so much more important things we need to spend money on in this country right now,” she said. “Health care, measures to control drug abuse, poverty. It is so maddening to me that this is even being considered.”
In Houlton, Hannah Friel, 38, said that she was still “on the fence” about the idea.
“Right now, I am leaning against it just because of the cost,” she said. “But I am supportive of the military at the same time. So I am waiting to see how much this really is going to cost before I make up my mind.”