The Inauguration Parade Almost Had Tanks And Missile Launchers

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

The Inaugural Parade is an American tradition of high school marching bands, national well-wishers, and some scattered military units. President-elect Donald Trump, on the other hand, reportedly wanted something a bit more Red Square, with tanks and missile launchers.

“They were legit thinking Red Square/North Korea-style parade,” a member of Trump’s transition team told The Huffington Post, and which jibes with his previously expressed desire for American military parades.

Military parades are not customary to America for a variety of reasons, but they’re very common in nations like North Korea and Russia, where their respective armed forces are regularly used to show political strength.


Unfortunately for those among us who appreciate a dictatorial military display every now and then, the military shot down the idea:

The military, which traditionally works closely with the presidential inaugural committee, shot down the request, the source said. Their reason was twofold. Some were concerned about the optics of having tanks and missile launchers rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue. But they also worried that the tanks, which often weigh over 100,000 pounds, would destroy the roads.

“I could absolutely see structural support being a reason [not to use tanks],” a Department of Defense official said. “D.C. is built on a swamp to begin with.”

Some of Trump’s requests will be honored, however. He’ll get his military flyovers, which are more common for Super Bowls than inaugurations, though these flyovers will be on a grander scale, with an F-16, an F-22, an F-15, and an F-35 making an appearance.

The last President to have a military flyover was Harry S. Truman in 1949.

U.S. inaugurations, by tradition, are very elegant events, with singers, performances and speeches urging unity. The F-35, on the other hand, is in Trump’s own estimation an overpriced failure that is due for a replacement before it even gets off the ground. Not exactly the best thing to project to the rest of the world.

Terrell Jermaine Starr is a senior reporter at The Root. He is currently writing a book proposal that analyzes US-Russia relations from a black perspective.

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