Veterans across region, Pennsylvania support President Trump's idea of a national military parade
The country could use a good military parade, several area veterans said in response to news that President Trump had ordered the Pentagon to start planning one.
"It's a great idea," said Dwight Fuhrman, state commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. "We've got to support the military and the veterans."
While there might be questions about when and where to hold it and how to pay for it, the general idea is a good one, said Paul Kennedy, commander of the Pennsylvania department of the American Legion.
"I personally feel it's good for our veterans. It's good for our country," he said.
A Vietnam veteran, there was no welcome home for him and other veterans from that war. The country should do something for more recent veterans, he said.
"Personally, I think it's something that is overdue," he said.
President Trump has requested a military parade in Washington, D.C. later this year. This hasn't happened in the U.S. since 1991, and is expected to cost millions of dollars. pic.twitter.com/kcsdoFfDA9— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 7, 2018
While active military and veterans often take part in Memorial Day, Veterans Day and 4th of July parades, the vehicles they use are typically lighter ones such as Jeeps, Humvees and trucks, said Tim Neff, vice president at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum in Pittsburgh.
"Tanks might be a stretch," he said.
The United States has apparently only held the kind of parade Trump wants at the end of a major war. The last such parades occurred in 1991 in Washington and New York to commemorate the end of the Gulf War.
"There's no real precedent for it," Neff said.
Westmoreland County Commissioner Charles Anderson, a retired Marine colonel, said he doesn't see a downside to the idea.
"I think it would be great," he said.
Polly Bozdech-Veater, a retired Navy captain from Fox Chapel, wasn't so sure, particularly if the cost comes out of the military's budget. The branches of the military need more money for equipment and training, not less, she said.
"We're already having a difficult time funding our services' requirements …," she said. "We just don't have enough funds to do what we need to do."
Local military parades, rather than a large national parade in Washington, would also probably do more to reconnect the civilian population with the military. A disconnect between the 1 percent who defend the other 99 percent was a common theme in veterans' comments.
The Department of Defense launched a new initiative Feb. 1 called "This is Your Military" and is using the #KnowYourMil as part of an effort to bridge that gap.
A national parade would also help bridge that gap, said Bob MacPherson, a retired Navy chief warrant officer from West Newton.
"I'm all for it. I think we've grown complacent in the country," he said. "There's a growing disconnect between the population and military."
While the country and the military have been understandably focused on terrorism for the last two decades, they need to recognize that the world is changing, he said.
"China and Russia are re-emerging as real threats, so I think a focus on renewed strength for our military is important and I think this is a visible way to show that," MacPherson said.
Brian Bowling is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1218, email@example.com or via Twitter @TribBrian.