Robert F. Jakubowicz: Corrupting of our July 4

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PITTSFIELD — The 4th of July is not the celebration of a big military victory on that date in 1776. The Revolutionary War began in April 1775 in Lexington and Concord and continued until British General Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia in 1781. It's the celebration of two consequential, historic declarations made by representatives of the 13 colonies. One was the independence of the colonies from British rule. The other was a statement of inalienable, self-evident truths. Neither of which require a show of military might, including tanks to take part in the celebration.

I was a tank crew member in the Army. There is nothing about these war machines to set the tone for celebrating this nation's birth or these truths. Tanks are made to instill fear and cause maximum destruction. They have come to represent a weapon of choice for totalitarian leaders to quash people attempting to exercise these truths.

In 1956, Soviet tanks stood out in media reports from Hungary as representing Russia's military might in crushing that nation's attempt to break away from Russian dictatorial rule behind the Iron Curtain. In 1989, China sent its tanks to Tiananmen Square to quell a protest against that government. A memorable picture emerged from this event. It showed a young Chinese person standing his ground in front of a row of tanks and causing them to stop. The inclusion by President Trump of tanks in this year's celebration has caused concern by political commentators because of the tone these noisy, malodorous symbols of fear and destruction may cause. These vehicles are not toys for presidents to play with.


So far, America has not had many large military parades except for events like the end of Civil War and World War I and World War II. The essence of the July 4 celebrations until now have consisted of parades with flyovers by military aircraft, family barbecues, firework displays, band concerts and the like. Pittsfield is a good example of this tone with its grand parade with floats, large balloons, local marching groups, bands, then a baseball game followed by a firework display. The only show of the military is a small group of marchers, a few small military vehicles, and a fife and drum band. Military planes flying over the parade are unlike tanks in the parade. They do cause excitement for the public and are commonly used at sporting events. Meanwhile for the rest of Berkshire County the Declaration, as voted by the colonial representatives is published in the local newspaper and read at public venues.

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President Trump wanted to set a different tone for the celebration. He wanted to showcase America's military might. Only the high cost of a massive display of such force in a parade made him decide on a smaller version.

He has certainly been trying to show off such might in his past tweets with the North Korean dictator and Iranian leaders about the ability of this nation's massive military to inflict great damage around the globe. It was not necessary to inject it into this celebration. He should have followed the wise advice of the American Legion which in its preamble states that the nation's goal should be "To make right the master of might."

More to the point, the president should have heeded the beginning lines of the Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal" (instead of white supremacy), with "unalienable rights" such as "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness" (but not for immigrants and their children) which are secured by governments that derive "their just power from the consent of the governed' (not the personal whims of the nation's chief executive).

I think that Americans have heard enough of bombast by the president. The president politically corrupted this July 4 celebration by making it a part of his reelection campaign. Doing so may not enable him to avoid defeat next year.

Robert "Frank" Jakubowicz is a regular Eagle contributor.


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