Lawmakers rain on Trump's idea for military parade through Washington

WASHINGTON -- Everybody loves a parade, the saying goes, and no one more than President Trump. He was wowed last summer by a French military parade in Paris marking Bastille Day.  

"It was one of the greatest parades I've ever seen. It was two hours on the button and it was military might," he said.

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President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron during Bastille Day parade on the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris, Friday, July 14, 2017.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

The next time he met the French president, the commander in chief said he wanted a parade of his own, only bigger.

"We may do something like that on July 4 in Washington, down Pennsylvania Avenue," he said. "I don't know. We're going to have to try and top it."

Planning has now begun for what would be the first military parade in the nation's capital since the end of the first Gulf War in 1991, the last time the U.S. could unequivocally declare military victory. With no new victories to celebrate and troops still in combat, some Democrats say it would be wasteful. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says this parade would just be a show of appreciation.

"I think we're all aware in this country of the president's affection and respect for the military," Mattis said during an appearance at Wednesday's White House briefing. "We've been putting together some options. We'll send them up to the White House for a decision."

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Tanks roll down the street in central Pyongyang, North Korea, in a parade of troops and military hardware marking the 105th birthday of the totalitarian state's late founder, Kim Il Sung, April 20, 2017.

CBS

North Korea is about to hold its Army Day parade and satellite photos show an estimated 13,000 soldiers and 150 vehicles have been preparing for weeks. Would Mr. Trump insist his parade be bigger? Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina hopes not.

"The idea of saying 'thank you' through a parade makes sense," Graham said. "The idea of showing muscle through a parade, I think, is counter to what we're about and would actually be a sign of weakness, not strength."

The Pentagon wants to have the parade on Veterans Day in November, which also happens to be the 100th anniversary of victory in World War I. That date has the added advantage of being after the midterm elections, allowing the military to steer clear of politics.

  • David Martin

    David Martin is CBS News' National Security Correspondent.