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Historical perspective acts as a prophylactic against current events hysteria—so much so, in fact, that I sometimes think we should perhaps advocate the free distribution of historical perspective (perhaps through local school systems, though that may prove a bit too controversial).
Take the matter of the apparently-terrifying proposal made by President Trump, that the United States hold a big military parade.
This time 110 years ago, President Theodore Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet,” composed of 16 battleships and their accompanying vessels, was partway through its round-the-world naval procession. It was a combination logistical and diplomatic exercise, and a brilliant show of national will and military capacity. Many historians agree the tour had a considerable effect on America’s would-be allies and adversaries. It was inspired by foreign militaristic pageantry, particularly British and German naval displays, and was strongly criticized by political opponents for assorted reasons. For one, it was an expensive endeavor, and there can be little doubt that foreign powers found the project a good deal more provocative than, say, parading the fleet’s personnel through the streets of the nation’s capital would have been.
Compared to the optics and implications of parading the battlefleet around the world (an achievement, by the way, the U.S. Navy proudly celebrated on its centennial a few years ago), a military parade in Washington, D.C. seems rather mild. It might be a novelty for the city, so used to more chaotic marches, to see disciplined units marching in step rather than strolling quasi-mobs, but hardly a threat to the liberty which our fighting men are sworn to protect.
However, having marched in a few parades in the halcyon days of my youth, I strongly suspect the prospective participants themselves find the whole idea less than inspiring. The fun of a parade is in the spectating, as opposed to the marching.
Therefore, I have a modest proposal to make the processional idea more attractive to everyone. Let’s let the fighting men watch from the sidelines and the reviewing stands, and let the legions of D.C. bureaucrats do the marching this time around. That ought to mollify everyone.
Oh—and for the sake of poetic justice, let’s remember put the horses at the front of that parade.
Our Pride Parades are most notorious—
With those, nothing else competes.
Yet all seven deadly sins
May hold processions in our streets—
On some picturesque occasions,
Lust, of course, holds hands with Pride.
Surrounded by celebrities,
They’re smug and satisfied.
“Redistribute All The Things!”
Hear Greed and Envy chant together—
(Sloth and Gluttony stayed home…
There was a rumor of bad weather.)
Now, see the festive Wrath Parade,
Angry pink hats upon their heads!
(Sloth and Gluttony observe—
Virtually, of course, from their soft beds).
How swiftly the “woke” mobilize,
(And they never waste a crisis!),
Marching boldly to protect
And, yes, celebrate, our vices.
But . . . parade our nation’s soldiers?
Who’d do that?! It’s like a coup!
It’s too scary, and tyrannical—
Just like the French! “Sacre bleu!”