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Vets for Peace Booted from National Memorial Day Parade

Matthew Rothschild

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. "Last year, we had two groups who supported the war, and we turned them down."

Cross says that when the American Veterans Center looked more closely at the Vets for Peace application and "saw what they were requesting, to carry a coffin in the parade, and all that jazz," it decided not to let them participate.

Michael Marceau, a wounded Vietnam vet, serves as vice president of the D.C. Vets for Peace group. "We're puzzled," he said, adding that he felt "very disrespected."

Caroline Anderson, the widow of Delwin Anderson, was supposed to ride in the parade in a convertible. Bashful, she doesn't want to talk about herself or on behalf of the Vets for Peace chapter. But she is not happy about the expulsion. "It's a great disappointment," she says, "to feel that other veterans would not allow them to be with them and march, just because they're for peace."

Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine.

© 2008 The Progressive

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