Military Parade – maybe it’s not a bad idea

Military Parade in DC?

military parade

US Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps (courtesy Spc. Van Der Weide/U.S. Army)

Military Parade in DC?

Yeah, I wasn’t impressed when Donnie declared he wants a Red Square-style parade. We’re not a culture of tanks and missiles. I want a military parade, though.

military parade

Sentinel, Tomb of the Unknowns, Arlington National Cemetery (courtesy Wikimedia Commons user Eric Chan)

We fetishize military deaths in the United States. I attribute this to two main factors. First, the Puritan roots of the United States. We demand focus on the afterlife. We honor the dead more than the living. Are Forces are not better fighters for that. Let’s cheer them while they’re still with us!

Factor number two focuses around Arlington National Cemetery. The center of military ceremony in many Western countries is the royal palace. There’s Buckingham Palace in London, palaces in Oslo, and Stockholm, and the Vatican, to name a few. We don’t have a royal family in the United States. Our focus is on the dead. Turning the Custis-Lee Plantation into hallowed ground made for an interesting compromise. It gave the Union a way to ceremonially seal the victory over the Southern rebellion. It also raised the leader of the rebels up to a lofty position in our country’s military tradition and heritage. It’s an honorable and distinguished thing to do. Still, it focuses on death and the dead more than we should. ‘

Honoring the living

military parade

The United States Navy Ceremonial Guard and the United States Air Force Honor Guard are reviewed by Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, during a Joint Services arrival ceremony at the Pentagon, 14 Feb. 2012. (Courtesy U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley)

To facilitate the honoring of military dead, each branch of the service maintains an honor guard in the DC area. The US Army has the Third Regiment, The Old Guard. The Old Guard includes the Caisson Platoon and Escort Platoons, that bear the bodies of our deceased military men and women to their resting places at Arlington. The regiment also includes other units that honor the living, such as the Commander In Chief’s Guard,  and the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps.

military parade

US 1st Cavalry Horse Detachment (courtesy Pfc. Rebekah Lampman, U.S. Army)

And that’s not all! There’s the 1st Cavalry Division Horse Cavalry Detachment, part of the 1st Cavalry Division, posted at Fort Hood, in Texas. The Navy has the Naval Ceremonial Guard, Marines are first to fight, but they also have the United States Marine Corps Battle Color Detachment, which includes the USMC Silent Drill Team. There’s the USAF and the US Coast Guard Honor Guards as well. Therefore, we have the personnel for a grand parade!

Don’t forget the USS Constitution, up in Charles Town, Boston! Bring the crew, dressed in their War of 1812-era uniforms down for a parade!

Here’s a list of military ceremonial units.

Martial Music

military parade

US Navy Ceremonial Band (courtesy Chief Musician Stephen W. Hassay)

So, there are the bands! In addition to the Old Guard Fife and Drums, each service has a band in the DC area. Many bases and posts also have excellent bands. Put the DC bands on the street! Bring the service academy bands to DC. Have a contest among the other bands. Let them audition for spots in a grand parade.

Flyovers!

military parade

USAF Thunderbirds (courtesy Airman 1st Class Tammie Ramsouer)

Fly the planes! Bring on the US Navy Blue Angels and the USAF Thunderbirds! While the jets fly, don’t forget the Army’s Golden Knights!

Focus on our Forces

military parade

Let helicopter pilots CAPT Daniel Hall and CAPT Vincent Franchino march proud!

So, celebrate the men and women of our Forces, before we put them in the ground! Honor their families! Maybe let some of the spouses and children march/ride in a parade!

Display diversity! Parade people of color, parade gay couples and our TG military personnel! They deserve it more than missiles.

Making MOS Designations gender-neutral

Marine firing his rifle in training.

On The Gist podcast yesterday, Pesca remarked on changes the United States Marine Corps is making to 19 Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) designations, to make them gender neutral. They’re replacing “man” in those designations with other descriptors:

  • Basic infantry Marine.
  • Riverine assault craft Marine.
  • Light-armor vehicle Marine.
  • Reconnaissance Marine (to include three other recon-related jobs that include the word “man”).
  • Infantry assault Marine.
  • Basic field artillery Marine.
  • Field artillery fire control Marine.
  • Field artillery sensor support Marine.
  • Fire support Marine.
  • Basic engineer, construction and equipment Marine.
  • Basic tank and assault amphibious vehicle Marine.
  • Armor Marine.
  • Amphibious assault vehicle Marine.
  • Amphibious combat vehicle Marine.

Pesca’s take was two-pronged: he naturally had some snarky comments about the awkwardness of some of these titles, as well as a few comments about reactions folks had to the changes in comments to posts on Facebook. As Pesca noted, it appears that Marines object to being called “Marine”.

Not being in the military, I can’t say I have an opinion on these designations, but they did bring me back to how Star Trek: The Next Generation handled gender-specific pronouns in Star Fleet. The writers basically punted, having subordinates call all superior officers, “sir”, regardless of gender. At the time, I thought it was an interesting concept. Now, given that more and more women serve in our Forces, and the ban on transgendered folks openly serving has been lifted, this is a good thing.

Still, I keep thinking about LT Firstborn and his use of a very specific spoken-word convention on the submarines. Like ST:TNG, I could see the language of war remaining as simple as possible, monosyllabic where possible. Maybe “man” and “sir” are still the right way to keep it short and simple?