Today is Veteran’s Day. Which is to say, today is the day we specifically set aside to honor the veterans. Regardless of how one feels about the Iraq War, or the Vietnam War, or even war in general, we set aside today to honor those men and women who put their lives on the line in service to their country.
In theory and principle — and occasionally in practice — those uniformed men and women do what they do to protect our freedoms. They separate themselves from family and friends to serve their country. Many of them come back without limbs, or without the same sense of sanity that they left. Many of them don’t come back at all.
As such, we don’t provide a litmus test to veterans. We don’t say, "We’ll honor you on Veteran’s Day, but only if you vote for Political Candidate X". We don’t say, "We’ll honor you for your service to our country, but only if you fought in X, Y or Z conflicts." And we certainly don’t say, "We honor you only if you forego your First Amendment rights, part of the parcel of rights you fought to protect."
So when I read that anti-Iraq War veterans were banned from your Veteran’s Day parade, I was stunned. Let me say this quite simply: Veteran’s Day parades are to honor the veterans — all veterans. If you were holding a Pro-Iraq War Parade, that is one thing — but this isn’t that. And for you to think that Veteran’s Day is synonymous with being pro-Iraq, you are grossly mistaken.
UPDATE: That goes for you, too, Denver.
CORRECTION: The anti-Iraq vets were allowed to march in the Denver parade after all (albeit at the very end of it). It seems that those who served understand:
Air Force veteran Jim Hill said the groups should be allowed to march in the parade.
"They put in their time, they lost their buddies too, their friends," he said.