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November 07, 2007 04:39 PM UTC

A Liberal's Dilemma

  • by: kate

Every Veteran’s Day, my family and I thank the men and women in our lives who’ve served this country. We call or visit, expressing gratitude for what they’ve given all of us.

Our first Veteran’s Day in The Springs, we now have another option to add to our annual tradition.

This Saturday, beginning at 10am, is our new community’s annual Veteran’s Day Parade. The 90-minute funfest will feature local military heroes, Air Force Academy cadets, Junior ROTC units, high school marching bands and the Air Force Academy band as well as balloons and floats.

I’m uncomfortable attending such an event. There’s a difference between gratitude for the service and sacrifice of our soldiers, and simply celebrating the military.

Veteran’s Day isn’t about glorifying war, wrapping it up in a pretty parade and calling it patriotism.

The best way to honor our soldiers is to limit the danger they face. Speeches and parties are fine, but first we must elect officials who respect soldiers through sound foreign policy and adequate funding for supplies.

A parade does very little good when veterans are suffering from wounds, both physical and psychological, and don’t have access to quality health care.

Marching high school students eager to put on a uniform is yet another issue. I feel rather foolish holding a balloon and cheering for a group of kids who are recruited to serve without full disclosure. As a teacher, I see too many students who think war is a game and an easy way to pay for college. They don’t understand the ramifications of military service and that sometimes the ultimate payment isn’t so easy after all.

Volunteering to feed homeless vets, visiting the elderly at a VA hospital or advocating for better veteran’s benefits – there are many ways to commemorate Veteran’s Day. A parade just drowns out the real issues with a lot of noise.

***cross-posted at Out in Left Field***


38 thoughts on “A Liberal’s Dilemma

  1. The militarization of America needs to be checked, seriously and soon! The defense (i.e. war/empire) budget is strangling innovation, health, environmental improvement, and our competitiveness in the global economy.

    The true price of gas is probably closer to $15/gallon because of the military propping up our “national security” in far off lands.

    July 15, 1979 Jimmy Carter called for a national energy policy…read it here…

    Then, Reagan came along, elected by oil money and Cheney was put in charge of the national energy policy…and that was that…

    A national disgrace and disaster!

  2. .
    I’m all for glorifying the sacrifice of soldiers;
    not so keen on glorifying war. 

    You inspired me to contact the parade organizers to ask if I could march in the parade as an individual,
    carrying a protest sign. 

    I pay dues to VFW,
    but it would not be right to march with them with a protest sign. 
    Some members may not agree with me. 

    Nor would it be fitting to ride in the truck with Vietnam Era vets,
    as some have told me they strongly object to my activism.
    It could cost some of them their high-paying jobs. 

    The proposed sign would say something like,
    “employing Mercenaries dishonors Vets.” 

    Sounds like the parade organizers don’t have a problem with it,
    but due to what happened at the St. Paddy’s Day Parade
    (I wasn’t there, but heard about it)
    they want to clear it with the CSPD. 

    Are there any other Vets who would join me,
    if I get approval ?
    Would you carry a sign, too ?
    I promised to not protest against the Iraq War directly
    or Blackwater specifically.

    1. .
      Parade organizers called me back;
      I may NOT march in their parade with my protest sign,

      a sign which is truly about honoring the sacrifices of vets.

      The parade board of directors even said that they would rather I didn’t even stand along the route with my sign. 


      I guess I’m starting to see Kate’s point about the parade glorifying war rather than honoring soldiers.


      I was an infantryman. 
      I felt that I was making an important sacrifice,
      forgoing a more lucrative career,
      by choosing to lead other infantrymen. 

      But our war hero President has said,
      by hiring Blackwater to perform combat operations on contract,
      that my sacrifices
      – and the sacrifices of all soldiers and Marines –
      can be replaced with a financial transaction. 

      “Veterans are Chumps”
      GW Bush


      Just by having a parade, any parade, the organizers and participants are making a political statement.

      I believe Kate is pretty close to discerning the message of this one.

  3. I agree with your sentiments about the purpose of veterans day, but I always remember how my granny looked forward to the parade (she was an Army nurse in WWII).  So many of the vets enjoy it.  I leave them with their simple pleasures.

    1. It has no business being there.

      If you [Kate] feel uncomfortable about the parade, don’t go. Continue your activism in other areas.

      No one wins protesting a parade.

      I had a hell of a time explaining to my three year old nephew why Indians threw fake blood on the street during the Columbus Day parade. Recently I asked him if he wanted to go to the Parade of Lights this year and he asked if Indians would be there throwing blood.

      Didn’t do much to further their cause with that little one.

    2. In times of war, though, it doesn’t seem to be in good form. And I don’t want to see it turn into a “glorifying war” event. I just don’t trust The Springs to do it any other way, though.

  4. I, too, feel the seem.  Yet so many Americans seem to think that the only way to honor vets and the fallen is to glorify war. This lack of ability to sever one from the other is why you get the mindset of honoring our troops by supporting the war.  Two very different things.

    I would like to think that we, individually and collectively, go to war holding our noses, so to speak.

    But alas, so many, usually right wing, can’t accomplish such a simple mental exercise.

  5. Not only do we have all the bases and the AFA here, we have a large percentage of vets as part of the population.  As long as men and women wear our nations uniforms we will remember them and the sacrifices they made.  The parade isn’t about glory.  It’s about Honor.  If the display makes you uncomfortable, don’t go.  It’s not mandatory, we’ll understand.

    1. By conceding that it’s a “military town”……geek….you bury the issue. You’ll never “get it”. I’m not going to try.

      The overwhelming majority of voters are trying to say that we DON’T NEED’ so much money and emphasis on the military. There are ways more wise.

      When you understand the “wisdom of peace” (as opposed to your condescending “we’ll undestand” comment), then perhaps “intelligent design” may actually come to fruition.

      1. That we should give up parades and any other public forms of honoring the men and women in uniform who sacrifice in our names?  That any mention of military service should be shunned and the names of the fallen forgotten?  Veterans Day is about remembering those who have fallen in our defense and showing those still alive that we do value what they have done.  You’re the one that doesn’t get it, and never will.  You will enjoy your freedom to make money with your company and thoughtlessly denigrate those who died to make it possible.  Sacrifice in the name of others is just the way of stupid people in your world.

        1. We don’t always agree but on this we surely do.

          Pay no mind to the wannabee socialist calling himself Sir Robin (The Bravely Running Away)
          He is typical of what you stated above. He’ll enjoy his freedoms that were given to us by the blood of our soldiers, fighting wars that they didn’t ask to be led into, but he’ll spit at them for their effort in his mind.

          He also talks tough but I’m guessing in person he would be pretty meek.
          I’d just love to be a fly on the wall if he happened to walk into a bar like “Sufferin’ Bastard”, when one of the many veteran biker clubs are a meeting, and then tell them how he really feels about the military, or even our commander in chief.

          1. and NOW I understand your “bravely running away” repetitive comment. Duh. But I’m not running away from anything, never have and never will.

            You know, when I was a younger man I bought a bar in the town where my brother had a lot of friends. He had just been killed in the service (army) and I wanted to party with them for awhile. This was in a small town in the far north of WI….basically full of crazy lumberjacks and Indians. All of them trying to be tougher and crazier than the next.

            I had to close the bar at 2:00 a.m. The police wanted to bust me and take my license away because it was quite the young wild bar. They’d sit across the street and make sure everyone was out and the doors locked by 2. Of course, being my bar, everyone was having so much fun that at 1:30, when I’d haul out the broken off pool cue and start pounding the bar to get everyone’s attention for last call, trouble invariably started.

            I had, on many occasion, lumberjacks and Indians come right over the bar at me. Well. my Dad was a semi pro boxer and I inherited his reflexes. No one ever touched me.

            I made a few enemies, because I couldn’t afford to show weakness or take any shit from anyone.

            I lived, alone, 8 miles out on a dirt road, with no neighbors within miles. My .357 kept me sleeping well.

            So fuck off, Gecko! You don’t know anything about me.

            1. what happened to you?

              You went from kicking ass to screeching about people who disagreed with you and calling them the “antichrist”?

              Something’s not adding up.

              I also wouldn’t have figured you for an Amendment 2 guy.

              In that case, let’s go have coffee (decaf for you) and shooting sometime…


        2. That’s Memorial Day. And I took my boys to Bay Pines National Cemetary every year (even before 9/11) to pause and remember before the big tofu barbecue.

          Veteran’s Day is to THANK OUR VETERANS. And, like I said before, a parade during peace time is fine. But during war, I think we should pause and find another way to honor their service. Too many veterans are sick and hurting and finding no relief. We should find a way to reach out and allieviate their suffering on Monday of ALL days.

          I don’t trust my new community to be thoughtful in the way they march down the street. And they should be thoughtful. We have no business, really, throwing confetti and cheering on especially young people who want to go off and fight in a war that most of the country wants out of.

    2. I did not intend to be condescending with my final remark, but I can see how it can be taken that way.  The fact that you visit and call vets shows you do honor their sacrifice.  I merely meant that you would not be thought less of by not attending the parade.  I apologize for any misunderstanding.

  6. Veterans’ Day was originally founded to mark the end of World War I – November 11 – the war to end all wars that initiated killing on an industrial scale (20 million dead) and spawned the wars of the 20th Century.  The Brits and French carved up the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I and arbitrarily cobbled together Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan.  So our kids who serve in Iraq still live with that legacy.

    When I last visited France, I toured the Normandy cemeteries.  The countryside contains many – American cemeteries marked with white crosses, German cemeteries with black crosses (and three dead in each grave).  That war’s innovation was “Its OK to bomb cities and kill civilians to achieve military ends.”  60 million dead – 20 million military and 40 million civilians.

    My Dad’s war was Korea.  Nobody knows how many died.  Maybe 1.5 million military dead.

    My generation’s war was Vietnam were we mark our dead on a black wall in DC.

    Our kids’ war in Iraq has introduced (or maybe just re-introduced) the innovation of the religious political leader who encourages followers to blow themselves up to kill their enemies thereby ensuring themselves a place in Heaven.

    The best thing one can do to honor Veterans is take actions to ensure that there are no more Veterans.  Working for peace is way harder than making war.  Ironically, TALK – the one thing politicians do best – is the one thing politicians on both sides never seem to do when confronted with a national crisis.  They always find it politically more expedient to look the other way, vilify foreigners and send our kids in harms way.  Then, give a speech about how our soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice.

    The villain in Veterans’ Day parades is usually the politician who’s leading it down the street.

  7. “Veterans make up one in four homeless people in the United States, though they are only 11 percent of the general adult population, according to a report to be released Thursday.

    And homelessness is not just a problem among middle-age and elderly veterans. Younger veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are trickling into shelters and soup kitchens seeking services, treatment or help with finding a job.

    “We’re going to be having a tsunami of them eventually because the mental health toll from this war is enormous,” said Daniel Tooth, director of veterans affairs for Lancaster County, Pa.


    These soldiers, many of whom suffer from one form of mental issue or another, return home to find they have difficulty settling back into their families, leading to divorce (nearly 60,000 divorces from the Iraq conflict alone) which, in many cases, leads them down the path to homelessness.”

    h/t thinkprogress

  8. You said that the parade would “feature local military heroes, Air Force Academy cadets, Junior ROTC units, high school marching bands and the Air Force Academy band as well as balloons and floats.”  How does that glorify war any more than thanking individuals who have fought?

    I hope this doesn’t come across as argumentative, I’m just trying to figure this out

    1. involved in a parade. And I think, during a time of war$, we should be rather somber in our observing Veteran’s Day. People are dying “over there” and over here and a new survey, referenced above, indicates homelessness among vets is a problem.

      Not really a time for a party.

      1. Just the appropriateness of it during this conflict that you don’t agree with.  I can’t say that I agree but I can certainly give your point of view serious consideration.

        Let me also say that in the short time you have been here you have made some very thoughtful posts.  Glad to have you aboard.

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