Mr. President. Just as there is no crying in baseball, there are no tanks in American parades.
For the last twelve years, I’ve blogged about the Fourth of July and our celebration of our rich American history (although I do recognize it’s richer for some more than others, especially lately), and I have done so with pride and excitement. Last year, I reminisced about 1976 and my weekend celebration with the great love of my life as we watched the tall ships travel up the Hudson River, enjoyed fifteen minutes of fabulous fireworks to “Stars and Stripes Forever” by the United States Navy Band, celebrated with all the foods from our diverse culture, and gazed up at the majestic Statue of Liberty, whose message of taking in the tired and poor has always made me so damn proud I could burst. We Americans love parades. The New York City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade is the largest parade in the world, and has taken place every single year since 1792—and, get this: It doesn’t have one car, or truck, or … wait for it … TANK.
There are no tanks, Mr. President, in American parades. Nope, not a one. Not now, not ever, and the fact that you are creating a dictator-type spectacle with your family in tow on the day I try so very hard to remember what my country stands for has broken my heart into a million pieces.
There were tanks in Tiananmen Square. Remember that? Four massive tanks and one lone man who stood in front of the tank, stopping it from moving. Who will stand in front of your tanks, Mr. President, on Constitution Avenue? I pray someone will.
There were tanks in Patton’s army that sped through ice and snow to fight a tyrant who has been compared to you more than once. And, even at the end of World War II, we didn’t have tanks traveling down 5th Avenue, celebrating our win. That’s not what we do. Our military might has never been displayed, never celebrated, because we are not a country that shows off our strength—or, at least, we weren’t until now. We are a giving country that welcomes those without the resources we have and celebrates the plethora of countries that have made our citizens a melting pot of great humans.
Remember when President George W. Bush landed the fighter plane on the deck of an aircraft carrier to celebrate his “mission accomplished”? I think we can all agree that was something we could have done without. The image festered for years. We do not show off our military might. Ever.
We all know you can’t help yourself, but please do not do this. Your fragile, swollen ego wants to feel bigger than your actions can allow it to be.
But we do not have to participate. We do not have to watch it on TV. Instead, we can take to Twitter and Facebook, and email all the networks, asking that they not televise the footage. We can watch Wimbledon, or the Boston Pops and their fifteen-minute fireworks show. You know, a full half hour of fireworks diminishes the intended effect of those fireworks. Sometimes, Mr. President, more is just more—not better. This is one of those times.
Please do not give this horrendous spectacle a moment of your time. I certainly won’t.