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February 26, 2018 at 3:07 pm

Pach Helps Fact-Checkers on Eisenhower, Military Parade Meme

Dr. Chester Pach, standing at lecturn in regaliia

Dr. Chester Pach

While a recent meme about President Dwight Eisenhower and military parades was not a direct quote, Dr. Chester Pach says Eisenhower “wasn’t someone interested in pomp and circumstance,” Pach told Snopes in a fact-finding story headlined, “Did Dwight Eisenhower Reject the Idea of ‘Soviet-Style’ Military Parades?

Pach is Associate Professor of History at Ohio University.

“President Donald Trump’s reported request to create a grand military parade caused controversy in early 2018, with critics condemning the idea as ‘‘authoritarian.’ Others urged tolerance of the plan, pointing out that previous U.S. presidents — John F. Kennedy and Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower — had included troops and weaponry in their inaugural parades, writes Snopes. “Against this background, a widely-shared meme emerged in February 2018, containing a purported quotation from General Eisenhower which would lend support to those critical of Trump’s proposed parade.”

The query and answer on the meme were:

  • When asked if the United States should have a military parade to show off its might, this was then President Eisenhower’s response:
  • “Absolutely not. We are the pre-eminent power on Earth. For us to try and imitate what the Soviets are doing in Red Square would make us look weak.”

Snopes reports that it is “not a direct quotation by Eisenhower, but rather a paraphrasing of the general-turned-president’s position on military parades, which originated in remarks made by the renowned presidential historian Michael Beschloss…. However, several historians we spoke to told us ‘Ike’ would indeed have been opposed to a show of military strength that was not linked to a specific military victory, or a special occasion.”

“In an email, Ohio University historian Chester Pach told us he concurred with Beschloss’s interpretation. Pach, who is co-author of The Presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower, told us the general would have responded negatively to any proposal to hold a Soviet-style military rally.

“My guess is that Eisenhower would have rejected that advice if he got it. He wasn’t someone invested in pomp and circumstance. He knew that power had to be effective in ways other than elaborate displays of military might,” Pach told Snopes.

Columbus Dispatch Story on 1968

Pach also was quoted in a Columbus Dispatch story headlined “Echoes of 1968 resonate half-a-century later.”

“If anybody asks what was the most momentous year of the 1960s, 1968 is the answer you always get,” said Chester Pach, an associate professor of history at Ohio University who specializes in the era.

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