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No Military Parade For Trump In D.C. This Year; Pentagon Looking At Dates In 2019

President Trump was impressed with a Bastille Day parade when he visited France in 2017, inspiring him to request a military review for Washington, D.C. The date for that parade is now uncertain.
Michel Euler
President Trump was impressed with a Bastille Day parade when he visited France in 2017, inspiring him to request a military review for Washington, D.C. The date for that parade is now uncertain.

Updated Aug. 17 at 3 p.m. ET

The parade of U.S. military forces through the streets of Washington, D.C., that was ordered up by President Trump will be delayed, according to the Department of Defense.

The parade had been planned for the day before Veterans Day but Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said Thursday without explanation that organizers would "explore opportunities in 2019."

On Friday, Trump blamed the postponement on high costs — and on the Washington, D.C., government.

"When asked to give us a price for holding a great celebratory military parade, they wanted a number so ridiculously high that I cancelled it," the president said in a tweet.

Trump later added that he would instead attend a "big parade already scheduled at Andrews Air Force Base on a different date." He said, "Maybe we will do something next year in D.C. when the cost comes WAY DOWN. Now we can buy some more jet fighters!"

Responding to the president, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser posted a tweet calling herself "the local politician who finally got thru to the reality star in the White House with the realities ($21.6M) of parades/events/demonstrations in Trump America (sad)."

Bowser also spoke to reporter Carmel Delshad of member station WAMU.

"[Trump] has to be familiar with the facts of what it takes to support a national security event. Maybe he's angry with his own team that they can't pull off the parade by November, and he made the target Washington, D.C., and its taxpayers," Bowser told Delshad.

"If we have big events, and this would be a new big event in the District, we have to be prepared," she said. "That's the reality that parades, demonstrations and events, they have a cost. And we are happy to support those events, but those costs have to be returned to the taxpayers of D.C."

The parade delay comes after the latest estimate of $92 million for the cost of the display, a figure media outlets attributed to unnamed U.S. officials. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis scoffed at that figure, saying, "I guarantee you there's been no cost estimate," when he was asked about it by reporters during a trip to Bogotá, Colombia.

The American Legion suggested in a statement on Thursday evening that the parade be postponed until "we can celebrate victory in the War on Terrorism and bring our military home." The statement also said the money should be spent on care for the troops and their families.

Sources had told NPR's Tamara Keith and Tom Bowman last February that the cost could be anywhere from $3 million to $50 million.

As Keith and Bowman reported, the last parade of the armed services through Washington was in 1991, celebrating victory in Operation Desert Storm. But they noted that "Trump has said he wants to try to top the French Bastille Day parade he attended last year in Paris, which lasted just over two hours."

Organizers had suggested that the 2018 Veterans Day parade could mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

The Pentagon had assured the nation's capital that the display wouldn't include tanks, so damage to city streets would be minimized. Planners said that there would be a "heavy air component," and that the president would be surrounded by military heroes in the reviewing area.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: August 17, 2018 at 12:00 AM EDT
A previous version of this post said the last parade of the armed services through Washington, D.C., was in 1994; that parade was actually in 1991.
Barbara Campbell
Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.