veterans for peace barred from u.s. national memorial day parade

In the US, this is Memorial Day Weekend, supposedly a time to commemorate war dead, but usually the unofficial start of summer. Towns and cities all over the country hold parades, and veterans are featured prominently. But not all veterans are welcome.

From Matthew Rothschild in The Progressive:
There is one group of veterans that isn't allowed to march in the national memorial parade in Washington on Monday.

That's the Veterans for Peace, Delwin Anderson Memorial chapter, based in D.C. It's named after a World War II vet who fought in Italy and then worked for the VA for many years designing programs for injured veterans.

The group had applied to join the National Memorial Day parade.

And initially, anyway, it was accepted.

But then, late last month, the group was told that it didn't meet the criteria to participate.

The American Veterans Center, which runs the parade, told them "we cannot have elements in the parade that have any type of political message or wish to promote a point of view."

But other groups, like the American Legion, will be participating in the parade.

Its creed is to defend "God and country" and to "foster and perpetuate a 100 percent Americanism."

And check out the list of major sponsors for the parade. They include: Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, the nation of Kuwait, the U.S. Army, and even the NRA.

"We're striving to keep political statements out of the parade," says Jordan Cross, communications director of the American Veterans Center.

So god, country and "Americanism" are not political statements. But peace is a political point of view.

From the American Legion's Wikipedia entry:
In addition to organizing commemorative events and volunteer activities, the American Legion is active in U.S. politics. While its primary political activity is lobbying for the interests of veterans, including support for veterans benefits such as pensions and the Veterans Affairs hospital system, it has also been involved in more general political issues, generally taking a conservative position.


allan said...

The first commenter at that article summed it up quite nicely:

"Just so everybody's clear:
Glorifying peace is political.
Glorifying war is American."

I see the same bullshit in baseball coverage and from baseball fans.

Players saying "support the troops/prez" is neutral talk and everyone goes about their business.

Players saying "stop the war" or "the prez is wrong" is political or stirring things up and fans say players should stay quiet about this stuff.

Jere said...

You know what I was thinking? These flag-wavers love the "land of the free" line, but maybe they should think more about the "home of the brave" line. Be brave enough to point out and then fight injustice, or the hypocrisy of calling something free when it's not. Or at the very least, be brave enough to allow others who don't share your point of view to speak their mind, i.e. "be free."

laura k said...

You're so right, Jere. But their definition of bravery is so narrow. (Like calling war resisters cowards.)

And their definition of freedom... have they ever given it any thought? It's just a meaningless buzz word.

The first commenter at that article summed it up quite nicely:

Just FYI, that's a comment on the story at Common Dreams. The original is linked above.

And that does sum it up.

Anonymous said...

In no way, shape, or form, do I agree with the exclusion of Veterans for Peace. But, I thought that some of your readers might find it interesting to know that the US Supreme Court has ruled on the issue in a similar case, Hurley v. Irish-American GLB Group of Boston (1995).

"Generally, the Court ruled that private organizations, even if they were planning on and had permits for a public demonstration, were permitted to exclude groups if those groups presented a message contrary to the one the organizing group wanted to convey. More specific to the case, however, the Court found that private citizens organizing a public demonstration may not be compelled by the state to include groups who impart a message the organizers do not want to be included in their demonstration, even if such a law had been written with the intent of preventing discrimination."


And so it goes...

laura k said...

Thanks for that, MSEH. It's interesting you brought up Hurley.

I found myself on the "wrong" side of that issue in the annual debate/fight in NYC's St Patrick's Day parade. Of course I wanted to see queer Irish groups included, but I didn't want the parade to be forced to include them. Next time we had a pro-choice march, I didn't want to be forced to include the fetus lovers!

I certainly don't think the Memorial Day parade should be forced to include Veterans For Peace. It's just a sad commentary that they won't.