Thousands of people gathered in downtown DC for the annual Memorial Day parade. American flags lined the street and viewers showed their support of US troops and their patriotism. Instead of a flag, Michael Marceau held a banner, which called for peace and stated that his veterans’ organization had been “kicked out of the parade.” The Real News Network spoke with Michael and parade attendees to understand where Americans believe peace belongs in this day of patriotism.
National Memorial Day Parade
May 26, 2008
TEXT ON SCREEN: The Washington chapter of Veterans For Peace tried to take part in this year’s National Memorial Day parade. The coordinators of the parade refused their application.
MATTHEW PALEVSKY, JOURNALIST, TRNN: Your sign says “kicked out of the parade.” What does that mean?
MICHAEL MARCEAU, VETERANS FOR PEACE, WASHINGTON, DC: Well, we are the Washington, DC, area chapter of the national group Veterans for Peace. We decided as a chapter to apply to march back in about early April of this year. We were initially accepted on April 14. Two weeks later, we got a letter that uninvited us, and they said that they can’t have groups with political viewpoints. But if you look around, there were just active-duty military units just walk by. There are some Civil War and Revolutionary War reenactors come by. And if you look at the website for the sponsoring group, the American Veterans Center, you’ll see some of their major sponsors are Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, the National Rifle Association, CACI, which is a huge government contractor here in the area. And at one time I believe the government of Kuwait was listed as sponsors. So I think it’s okay to have a viewpoint, as long as you have the right viewpoint, and I mean that in all senses of the word.
PALEVSKY: There was a veterans’ organization called Veterans for Peace, which states that it is for bringing the troops home from Iraq, that was kept out of this parade.
JEROME, PARADE ATTENDEE: Well, I guess whoever organized the parade has some kind of a right to keep people out that they don’t want in, but I also think that those people have a right to march, I think. I mean, a war is supposed to bring a country together, not divide it.
PALEVSKY: What was your intention of joining the parade?
MARCEAU: Well, we just wanted to give—we have two World War II veterans who are still active in chapter activities whenever they can be, plus the widow of the man, Delwyn Anderson, for whom our chapter was named. We had planned to put them in convertibles and just go down the street carrying our Veterans for Peace flag here and several American flags, and that was about the extent of it. All we wanted to do was be visible and be acknowledged as someone who has stepped up to serve their country when their country asked them to.
DEBORAH, PARADE ATTENDEE: I think that people join the military to give you the right to dissent. And our country is free because of our troops, and that freedom includes the right to disagree with the government.
PALEVSKY: And there was a veterans’ organization called Veterans for Peace that was kept out of this parade for stating a political opinion. Do you think that’s alright?
DEBORAH: It’s not a political parade.
TOM, PARADE ATTENDEE: I think everybody has a voice in what they believe in.
PALEVSKY: And they were kept out of this parade. Do you think that’s alright?
TOM: Not really. I mean, this is America. We’re supposed to have freedom of speech. So I think they should be able to voice their opinion about it.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.