Military Parades

I was watching Today just now, and saw that Iran had another military parade to showcase their weapons and their troops.

We don't do this in the U.S., do we? I've never seen it.

I've seen parades featuring military troops. Almost always, there is a very reverent colorguard leading the parade carrying our flag and often the state and city flag.

As for other military parade participants, most of the time, they are not in formal formation and they smile to the people lining the streets. They usually don't carry their weapons, although they may have them with them.

I've seen plenty of parades featuing veterans, and people cheer for them and yell "Thank you for your service!"

I've seen jeeps and humvees filled with soldiers, often waving, and sometimes even throwing candy.

And I've seen planes, e.g., the Blue Angels, fly over the parade in formation.

But I've never seen a parade in the U.S. featuring giant weapons, missiles, tanks, and aircraft on trailers, and I've never seen rank upon rank of unsmiling military troops goose-stepping along carrying their rifles.

Are these kinds of parades done in cities that have big military bases nearby? We don't, although at one time, we did.

I really don't get this. What's the appeal of watching a bunch of weapons drive by and platoons of grim-faced troops?! Are people in other nations required to attend these parades?

Personally, I prefer giant balloons, clowns, floats stuffed with creped paper, marching high school bands, at least one bagpipe band, at least one band featuring instrumentalists who dance while they play, politicians walking along shaking hands and passing out pens, local businesses driving cars with their logo, beauty queens sitting in snazzy late-model convertibles, gymnastic schools doing flip flops, religious groups driving haywagons piled with AWANA students, majorettes twirling batons, and above all, candy-throwing!

The countries you mentioned (Soviet Union, Iran, China) tend to use parades like this to foment nationalistic sentiment by showing or demonstrating force. In some cases, even the audience is forced to attend to make a good show for the cameras and the weapons being pulled along are effectively props.

The United States has developed a citizen/soldier volunteer military since the draft was eliminated and it has a different dynamic. We also have a rich tradition of military ceremony and music but we express it differently than other countries.

The only thing similar I can recall is during Armed Forces Day at many military installations (especially large ones) they do have vehicles and equipment on display as part of their event. They may have some demonstrations as well including air shows and parachute jumps. It can be fun for kids as they are in many cases allowed to have pictures taken while sitting in a tank or helicopter (It was for me as a little boy as trucks and vehicles were always exciting!).

If you travel to the Washington, DC area, the United States Marine Corps runs two events during the summer which are free to the public. One is at the Marine Barracks which is an evening program (Fridays) and the other at the Iwo Jima memorial (Tuesdays) in the evening. Those programs include music and the silent drill team (amazing to watch!) and generally follow the standard protocol for a military parade.

Having attended a military high school, the sequence of events is very similar but for those who aren't used to military ceremony and custom some of the things done can be confusing.

Military ceremony contains traditions, regulations, history, and forms, and uniforms which help connect units and members to those who served before them. It is similar to our Catholic faith, but nowhere near as deep and rich.

Drop me a note if you're interested in more resources. Military pageantry and music (J. P. Sousa especially) can be great fun and a wonderful learning experience as to the sacrifice of many men and women who secure our freedoms. :)

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.