As the United States prepares to remember its war dead on Memorial Day, some veterans who want to remember their fallen comrades with a wish for peace are being barred from participating in official events.
Two chapters of Veterans for Peace, one in Washington state and one in Washingtgon, D.C., have been banned from parades.
In both cases,VFP was told it could not participate because the organization is “too political.” That is the same reason that others have given for barring Veterans for Peace and Vietnam Veterans Against the War from Veterans Day parades and activities.
What is particularly sad is that those who exclude them are often veterans themselves, with some misguided sense of patriotism.
In Washington, DC The VFP chapter D.C. had been officially accepted to join the National Memorial Day parade, but on April 28 Veterans For Peace received notice that the organization did not meet the criteria to participate. This notice was sent by the American Veterans Center, which is the organizer for the parade.
In Bremerton WA, The North Olympic Peninsula Chapter of CFP marched in the Armed Forces Day parade last year, but this year their application was rejected by the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce. Why?
“This is not set up for politics,” said Cris Larsen, chairman of the Armed Forces Festival. “Veterans groups are allowed to march and walk, it’s the whole idea of the parade was set up 60 years ago to honor all those brave men and women who have served in our armed forces.”
The way we “honor” them is to exclude any of those brave men and women who want to prevent others from losing their lives in combat.
If these events are non-political, the organizers fail to see the irony of excluding veterans based on their politics. That makes it political with a capital P.
Last Veterans Day, Iraq Veterans Against the War were barred from participating in the Long Beach CA parade. Thatg caused enough of an uproar that the rules have been changed for 2008, and Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Military Families Speak Out will be allowed to march. All were banned in 2007.
So there is some hope that common sense will prevail. It may be too late for this Memorial Day, but it is not too late to try. VFP suggests:
TAKE ACTION: Contact the Parade Director with the National Memorial Day Parade and calmly insist that Veterans For Peace be allowed into the parade!
Mackie Christenson – Parade Director
National Memorial Day Parade
Office: 703 302 1012 x 227
Cell: 703 350 0184
Personally, I suggest the cell phone.
In Bremerton, here’s the info:
TAKE ACTION: To help Chapter 139 get back into the parade, contact the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce. CALMLY INSIST insist that VFP be allowed back into the parade!
Cris Larsen – Chairman of the Armed Forces Festival
Fax: (360) 479-1033
Meanwhile, many Veterans for Peace chapters will participate in other events around the country, some official and some of their own.