More than a dozen members of an antiwar veterans group were arrested yesterday as they protested the exclusion of their message from Boston's Veterans Day parade.
Members of Veterans for Peace lined up in front of a podium at City Hall Plaza holding antiwar placards, as color guards from Massachusetts military units and JROTC bands from across the state filed into Government Center for a ceremony, sponsored by the American Legion, to honor veterans after the parade. Some protesters wore gags, which they later said symbolized the fact that, while they were permitted to march in the parade, they were prevented from carrying signs opposing the war in Iraq.
There were some appeals to the First Amendment by some of the peace-vets, which is neither here nor there; the organizers apparently have the right to exclude whatever statement they want.
But we simply have to come to terms with the fact that many veterans have come home from war … and gosh, they don't really like it very much. Or more simply, perhaps they oppose the present one.
We've been having this discussion for forty years now. Can't we recognize the service of veterans, without having that tribute act as an endorsement of war, specifically or generally? And shouldn't our tribute at least allow for veterans to speak their minds — either pro or con? I just don't see how you can honor vets, but then deny them their voice in such an event. “Thanks for your service — now shut the hell up.”
Yeah, it would be controversial to have the Veterans for Peace march in the same parade. But as one of the organizers said, “That's democracy.” It's messy, it's contentious, it's disagreeable, but we all have to live together anyway. After all, isn't that what our troops have fought for through the ages?
If you value your freedom, thank a vet. Or better yet, listen to a vet.