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Pentagon planning grand military parade for Trump
President Trump has asked the Pentagon to explore holding "a celebration" for Americans to show their appreciation for the armed forces, the White House said, amid reports that military leaders have begun planning a military parade at his request.
Trump repeatedly has expressed an interest in holding a display of America's military might and upped his calls for a parade after witnessing the Bastille Day celebrations on a trip to France last summer.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that at a recent meeting between Trump and top military officials, Trump's wishes were "suddenly heard as a presidential directive."
"The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France," one military official told the Post on the condition of anonymity. "This is being worked at the highest levels of the military."
A White House official told the Post that the planning was still in the "brainstorming" stages, and that there is "no meat on the bones" as of yet.
"President Trump is incredibly supportive of America's great service members who risk their lives every day to keep our country safe. He has asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Tuesday night.
"We are aware of the request and are in the process of determining specific details. We will share more information throughout the planning process," a spokesperson for the Department of Defense said.
White House chief of staff John Kelly is reportedly involved in the planning of the parade. Pentagon officials are pushing for the parade to be tied to Veterans Day, rather than Independence Day or Memorial Day, because it would appear to be less tied to Trump.
Officials told the Post that they do not yet know how they will cover the cost of the parade, which could reach millions of dollars.
Trump reportedly wanted to include tanks and missile launchers in his Inauguration Day parade. An inauguration team source said at the time that the team was "legit thinking Red Square/North Korea-style parade."
Military officials were reluctant about the inauguration team's desires, and the team ultimately decided not to move forward.
He then told French President Emmanuel Macron that he was considering having a military parade on Independence Day, saying that he wanted "a really great parade, to show our military strength."
Presidential historians told The Washington Post that a parade "smacks of something you see in a totalitarian country," and also warned that it could evoke nationalism instead of patriotism or could even stoke further tensions with North Korea.
The White House official pushed back on those warnings, saying it would be "the opposite" of totalitarian, because it would be a "celebration of the men and women who give us freedom," but also said it would be designed as a demonstration of America's strength and a "warning" to the country's enemies.
Updated: 10:30 p.m.