Members of the US military are seen next to a Bradley Fighting Vehicle as preparations are made for the "Salute to America" Fourth of July event with US President Donald Trump at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC, July 3, 2019. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — As members of the United States military prepared to take part in President Donald Trump's "Salute to America" Fourth of July celebration in Washington, D.C.—complete with fireworks, flyovers, and armored vehicles on display—one former Army commander called the festivities' focus on the armed forces "somewhat inappropriate."
Dr. Jeffrey D. McCausland is a retired U.S. Army colonel who commanded an artillery battalion during the Gulf War and served in many staff and command positions across the U.S. and Europe. He told WBZ NewsRadio's Nichole Davis he does not believe all members of the military are "thrilled" to take part in the event, as President Trump tweeted earlier in the week.
"From all the people I talk to, I don't think that's necessarily correct," McCausland said. "We don't even have all the senior leaders of the military showing up for this thing."
McCausland said that civilian control of the military has always been a bedrock of democracy—so being part of an event that is seen as largely political tends to rub service members the wrong way.
"The military, frankly, gets a little bit upset and feels very uncomfortable if they're dragged in something that they divined is really more of a political process or a political event, as opposed to what the military of the United States actually does," he said.
On a day that McCausland says should celebrate the citizens who established a democracy and read the Declaration of Independence on the steps of Independence Hall in 1776, he believes it is inappropriate to focus on the military—though he said the celebration appears to be more about the president himself.
"It seems, rather than being the 'Salute to America,' which is what it's called, it seems to be a salute to Donald Trump," McCausland said. "He said at the very beginning back in February when he announced his plans, 'You know, we're going to have major fireworks and a speech by your favorite president, me.' That kind of seems to me what it is."
Hear the complete interview below.