Military Independence Day celebrations too expensive, but Africa trips OK
by Don McKee
July 03, 2013 12:13 AM | 2644 views | 5 5 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Don McKee
Don McKee
Our soldiers and Marines won’t have fireworks on the Fourth of July at their major bases because of “fiscal challenges” blamed on spending cuts resulting from the sequester that also was the excuse for halting White House tours.

Independence Day celebrations have been canceled at the Army’s Fort Bragg and the Marine Corps’ Camp Lejeune, both in North Carolina. Closer home, the Fourth of July celebration at the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany also has been canceled. Other bases that are scrapping traditional Independence Day events are Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina, the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii, and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.

Blame it on budget cuts and furloughed workers that “also mean furloughed fireworks,” per the Army Times. Brig. Gen. Thomas Gorry, commanding general of Camp Lejeune, said the no-fireworks decision would “ensure that we can mitigate the fiscal challenges we are currently facing.” The base’s 2012 celebration of Independence Day costs about $100,000, including $25,000 for fireworks. By foregoing the traditional activities, the base doesn’t have to pay overtime for security, transportation, logistics and safety — which officials said they couldn’t justify at a time when federal employees are furloughed.

While the military bases were scrapping their Fourth of July celebrations because of budgetary constraints, their commander-in-chief and his family were taking a week-long trip/vacation to Africa at an estimated cost of $60 million to $100 million. According to news reports, the trip required numerous Secret Service agents and staff with military cargo aircraft hauling 56 support vehicles, including 14 limousines and three truckloads of bulletproof glass for windows at the places where President Obama and his family stayed.

It’s too bad Obama couldn’t spare some of the pocket change, say a few hundred thousand, to cover the Independence Day celebrations at military bases for the men and women that defend our freedoms every day. The same can be said of the cancellation of White House tours purportedly because of the sequester.

Obama has even come under fire from a fellow Democrat, U.S. Rep. John Barrow of Georgia, who said the president should lead by example. “We do question the need for such expensive trips when so many folks across the country are being forced to cut back because Congress can’t get its act together,” Barrow said. “These are hard times.” At least for many Americans that are out of work. Barrow said, “One hundred million dollars could be better used to keep folks on the job.”

How do military families feel about the canceling of Fourth of July celebrations? The Army Times interviewed Brandy Rhoad Stowe, whose husband is a master gunnery sergeant who has been deployed seven times to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. She said she and her children, ages 3 and 9, will miss the fireworks that have been spectacular at Camp Lejeune.

“What is the Fourth of July without fireworks?” she asked. “It’s like the Grinch stealing Christmas.”

That says it all.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Deep Throat
July 03, 2013
On the score of the budget sequester being bipartisan, note that the Obama White House was the AUTHOR of the idea of a sequester. Congressional leaders went along with Obama's proposal (made behind closed doors) because there was no other way to enforce keeping spending under control. Afterwards, when the sequester became a hot political issue, the Obama White House then tried to pin the blame on Republicans and deny its authorship of the proposal. See Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, ""Obama's Sequester Deal-Changer," February 24, 2013:

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Uncle Sam
July 03, 2013
Oh, come on, Don! The sequester was bipartisan. Can't House Republicans kick in something for military fireworks too?
just disgusting
July 03, 2013
We owe the military so much and we owe these greedy pols so little! The Africa trip is another example of Obama and his family making sure they "get theirs" before he leaves office. (After leaving this country in a shambles economically, militarily, and with more social problems than we know what to do with.) When, if ever, will the American public wake up?
July 04, 2013
Yes, the president should never engage in personal diplomacy.
July 06, 2013
I know you probably think that Africa is just an oversized zoo, but it's actually crucial that America work to blunt the influence of China, Brazil, and other nations that have invested time and resources in relations with African economies and leaders. Obama isn't there on vacation, and acting like he is just makes you look like a fool.
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