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Donnie, just pop a Viagra. It’s cheaper than a military parade.

Way back during the Stone Age when I was a young bright-eyed soldier serving in the Army in Germany, searching for the glory I had found in John Wayne movies, I discovered that soldiering was not like it was in the movies. There was a lot more floor polishing, boot shining, and cleaning then I ever saw in any movie—I did fight the battle of the floor buffer well, but there was no glory, and no medals for it.

Of course all of that cleaning and polishing was for a purpose. It was so a command sergeant major could come into your barracks, or your motor pool and tear you a new asshole for a dust bunny you missed under your bed, or grease spot in the back of the armored personnel carrier. Granted, I did not have it as bad as the Berlin Brigade. I only had to wash my vehicle. They had to baby oil theirs so they looked pretty.

The other point of all this cleaning was ceremonies of one sort of another, a change of command, a celebration of unit history, or a visiting dignitary. The one thing all of these had in common: a fucking parade. When I was in an armored unit, it meant spending hours in the motor pool cleaning, and scrubbing a vehicle that was already clean. It meant hours cleaning rifles, machine guns and other weapons systems. You always had one uniform, and one pair of boots you never took to the field so that they were perfect and inspection ready.

Before the parade, and depending on what the ceremony was for you, you would first have an inspection, either by the platoon sergeant, first sergeant, or sergeant major. If it was a dignitary the inspection may include an officer and the dignitary. It is normally hot in the blazing sun and you are standing at attention—it is miserable, especially if it is an inspection in dress uniform.

Once the inspection is over, you have the parade. In an armored unit, you drive your vehicles, maintain spacing and hoping like hell no one breaks down, especially in front of the reviewing stand. If you are in a light infantry unit, you march—again, it is hot. There is no shade and never any breeze.

I am not sure which is worse, Class A uniforms, or being in BDUs, helmet and web gear (or today’s equivalent). Either way you are in for a long miserable day. If you are lucky, you go past the reviewing stand and you are done. If you are not, you stand in formation in front of the reviewing stand and listen to a speech, or two, or three. In the hot sun, in uniform, at parade rest. Inevitably someone will lock their knees and pass out. The ceremony goes on, you stay at parade rest.

As a soldier, I hated parades. I despised them. To this day when asked if I would like to participate in one as a veteran, I say no. My last parade was around the Capital Square in Madison, Wisconsin, after the first Gulf War ended with my National Guard unit, and I will never be in another.

The United States is the only superpower in the world right now. We do not need to prove this, we do not need to show off our military might with a parade—honestly, I am tired of the military and veterans being used as props for everything from the Super Bowl to President Bone Spurs living out his delusions of military glory with a fucking parade—if he needs to get it up that bad, he can take a Viagra. Leave the military out of it—they need to be training and maintaining equipment—not marching in some meaningless parade.

Mark E Andersen

 

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