But then who doesn’t love a parade?
When I was a child, I loved to go to the annual Texas Rose Festival parade, with its marching bands and the shriners in clown cars, and ending with the new Rose Queen and the ladies of her court. They looked to me like living Barbie dolls, with their gowns so heavily beaded and sequined and with trains the size of Buicks flowing down the back of the floats. A lovely confection once a year for a little boy growing up gay in East Texas.
And then there was Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, which was all about the balloons. I was on team Underdog, rather than team Snoopy, which seems even more appropriate thinking back on it. And that parade culminated not with a queen, but with Santa Claus himself to signal the beginning of the Christmas season—back when the season didn’t start until, well, Thanksgiving. I didn’t get north of the Mason-Dixon line until I was 18, so I never attended that parade as a child (or as an adult, for that matter). More’s the pity.
So by the time Barbra Streisand sang about not raining on her parade in the film version of Funny Girl, parades had come to reflect a mix of the inspirational and the aspirational for me. And after a few years of lip syncing to that song in the living room, it could be said I was ready to march my own band out and beat my own drum. And I was not by any means the only one.
When I got to Dallas, many little boys and girls had come to the city. And it wasn’t just kids from Commerce or Amarillo or Wichita Falls (lots of folks from Wichita Falls) moving to Dallas. They were moving out of smaller towns into bigger cities all over the country. Whichever one fit the bill.
And when they got to the cities, they brought their own bands and their own drums. They started having parades. Literal parades—literally everywhere. Pride could not be contained, and over the years has grown to be more inclusive. (We should keep working on that.)
Parades are truly powerful things, so it shouldn’t be surprising that Trump wants to get in on the action. And I can’t blame him.
So, rather than risk being a killjoy, I’m going to offer some random thoughts on how to make this thing work. At least politically.
- Skip any attempt to include celebrity supporters. You can’t even use Scott Baio anymore. Focus on the military.
- Push for a Memorial Day or July 4 parade. The sooner, the better. It needs to be done before the November election and, more importantly, before any more indictments come down.
- Tanks are fine, especially if they have military personnel hanging all over them. Dress them up to look like liberating heroes from World War II. Don’t worry about a Michael Dukakis tank moment—these are real soldiers.
- Missiles are scary—too scary. If you try putting military personnel on a missile, it’s going to look like lost footage from Doctor Strangelove.
- No rose queen.
- No big balloons.
- No Santa Claus.
- And above all else—no goosestepping.
One of the few things most Americans agree on is support for and confidence in our military. Gallup rates it at 72%, higher than for Congress, the Supreme Court, the Presidency, the media or organized religion. That said, we all know this “support” from Americans is soft, because the real support needed for our military and veterans over the years has not been provided by Congress—regardless of the party in power.
So if Trump makes this parade about the military and not about him, it’ll still be too little and too late. And if he doesn’t, it’s just another cynical use of the military for political purposes.
But it look like there will be a parade. And who doesn’t love a parade?