President Trump will leave office on Wednesday without the glorious send-off he requested. Trump, who likes to jab a finger into the eyes of presidential traditions, will leave without a military send-off.
Trump is set to hold a farewell ceremony at Joint Base Andrews at 8 a.m. on Wednesday. He wants a military-style farewell parade with a large crowd of supporters present. Officials at the Pentagon have come out and said that it will not participate in any such event. As is Trump’s style, he wants an extravagant send-off but with over 20,000 National Guardsmen and other law enforcement securing the nation’s capital for the Biden inauguration, the president’s timing is just off. While any final farewell from the military would meet mixed opinions, with Trump supporters cheering it on and his detracters grousing about it, it is too bad Trump will be denied to formally say one last thank you to them as their Commander-in-Chief.
It’s unclear whether Trump has any relationship with the troops. His love for them could be as sincere as any president, given the gravity of the office and the daily experiences with those offering him and his family personal protection. By now, any attempt to stage his own rally with U.S. troops surely would meet a mixed reaction. Some would cheer; others would question its motives or sincerity. But in these fractured days, when the Joint Chiefs of Staff felt compelled to remind the men and women under arms in American service of their responsibility not to a man but to the Constitution, an Armed Forces Farewell for Trump would have meant subtly more than any that had come before. A Pentagon event thrown by the military’s leaders for their civilian president, from any political party, would showcase to the world their support for American democracy and a peaceful transfer of power.
President Reagan turned the first Armed Forces Farewell in 1989 into a ceremony at Camp Springs, Maryland. Hosted by the Joint Chiefs chairman and defense secretary, Reagan honored the young men and women in uniform and touted his administration’s successes. President George H.W. Bush received his Armed Forces Farewell in Fort Myer, Virginia, overlooking the Arlington cemetery. President Bill Clinton used his farewell in 2001 to thank the troops. President George W. Bush’s farewell to the military was more controversial, as he touted the successes of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. President Obama’s farewell ceremony was awkward and less notable than a speech he delivered a month earlier at Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base. Critics said his speech, heavy on policy, was more designed to tout his legacy than to say thank you to the troops.
Trump has spoken in the past about hosting military parades and did so on Independence Day 2019, breaking with tradition.
Millions were diverted from other funds to host the ‘Salute to America’ parade two summers ago as tanks rolled through the streets of the nation’s capital and military aircraft participated in a flyover of the National Mall. The events included a speech from Trump and the traditional fireworks show.
The whole ordeal was a massive break in tradition from Washington’s usual annual celebration of U.S. independence.
Trump will depart on Air Force One and fly to Florida. By the time his term officially ends at noon, he will be at Mar-a-Lago, maybe out on the golf course. President Trump has been absent from public events for 6 days. Vice-president Pence has assumed the role that the outgoing president traditionally participates in with the military.
On Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence delivered remarks to sailors at Naval Air Station Lemoore, and Sunday he visited the 10th Mountain Division in Fort Drum, New York. Last Wednesday, the White House announced Pence’s upcoming plans, claiming his remarks would celebrate ‘the Trump Administration’s historic foreign policy achievements.’
With only 48 hours left in office, President Trump is out of sight for a sixth straight day. He hasn’t had a public event since Tuesday and the White House just called a lid, signaling no on-camera statements or movements expected on this Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
— Monica Alba (@albamonica) January 18, 2021
Perhaps there will be a military color guard present at Joint Base Andrews or a 21-gun salute. It’s unclear if any military send-off at all will take place. It is expected that President Trump will skip two other traditional gestures upon leaving office – leaving a letter of advice to the new president and hosting a one-on-one conversation. Yeah, I don’t see either of those things happening between Trump and Biden, do you?
White House aides have sent out invitations, with guests instructed to arrive between 6 a.m. and 7:15 a.m. Invited guests are permitted to bring up to five guests but have been instructed to wear masks throughout.
Trump’s “ceremony” is scheduled for 8 a.m. at the military base where the outgoing president will make his final departure aboard Air Force One.
He’ll be 1st living US president in more than a century to choose not to attend regular exchange of power.https://t.co/Le8StPkcAP
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) January 18, 2021
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