US President Donald Trump has asked the Pentagon to organise a grand military parade in Washington DC as a proud display of America's might and a "celebration" for citizens to show their appreciation for the armed forces. The Washington Post reported Tuesday (6 February) that Trump asked top military officials to look into planning a parade later this year.
The president has long expressed interest in having a large-scale military parade in the nation's capital, complete with marching soldiers and tanks rolling down the streets, after witnessing the Bastille Day celebrations during his recent trip to France.
"The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France," an anonymous military official told the Post. "This is being worked at the highest levels of the military."
A White House official said the planning process is still in the "brainstorming" stages. However, the event could cost millions of dollars.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also confirmed plans for the event.
"President Trump is incredibly supportive of America's great service members who risk their lives every day to keep our country safe," Sanders said in a statement. "He has asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation."
Defense Department spokesman Thomas Crosson told the Post: "We are aware of the request and are in the process of determining specific details. We will share more information throughout the planning process."
The news comes just days after Trump accused Democrats who failed to applaud him during his State of the Union address as "treasonous" – remarks that the White House brushed off as "tongue-in-cheek" comments.
Meanwhile, the unusual plan for a military parade has already drawn criticism and comparisons with authoritarian regimes and dictators like North Korea's Kim Jong-un.
Democratic Representative Jackie Speier said that she was "stunned" by the plans and said "we have a Napoleon in the making here."
"I believe that we have so many issues around the world in terms of preparing for wars that are ongoing, and wars that may be in the offing because of what's happening in North Korea, that I would say that it's really a waste of money," Speier told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "I think everyone should be offended by his need to always be showing."
Naturally, social media users were also left shocked by the idea of a "pompous show" and described it as "one step closer to autocracy." Others listed various issues the government could better spend money on such as education, healthcare and homelessness.
"Trump is not a king or dictator," one Twitter user wrote. A second person added: "It is an egregious display of megalomaniacal ego and sociopathic arrogance."
"I would personally spend the money that would go to the military parade, were Trump to have his way, on providing food and housing for even a single homeless veteran," Liz Mair wrote. "But that's just me."
"Enough of this authoritarian BS," another person said. "Trump doesn't want to emulate France. He wants to emulate North Korea. And pre-war Germany."