The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Joanne Jacobs mocked this letter to the Mercury News decrying militarism at a San Jose Veteran's Day parade:

From my home in downtown San Jose it was an easy walk to Market Street to watch the Veterans Day Parade -- flags, old soldiers, bugles and drums, all giving expression to my own patriotism, especially on this day.

But I left early. In the beginning, the middle, and I suspect the end, something olive green and sinister snaked through the parade. I had not expected it, not to that degree. It was the machinery of war. And from the cheers of the spectators, it seemed the glory of war surpassed the glory of the veterans.

Many veterans fought in wars, and it was guns and tanks that ensured their safe return. But it is one thing to say our thanks and another to so wildly cheer soldiers in camouflage pointing rifles, to applaud so vigorously the World War II entry that proclaimed, ``We did it then, we can do it now.''

I went to the parade to honor our soldiers that gave much and traveled far, not to glorify the wars that took them there.

In these days of yet another bloody conflict, I can think of ways to celebrate Veterans Day without glorifying war. Bring out more school bands, more Boy Scouts, more Sousa marching music, more baton twirlers, more kids waving American flags, more leaflets calling for improved veterans benefits. A parade like that --I think I might have stayed.

Ann Lencioni
San Jose

The stuff about "more leaflets calling for improved veterans benefits" is obnoxious, and I agree with Jacobs' commenters that Lencioni might want to think about whether Boy Scout troops would do a good job of capturing Baghdad. But I do agree with some of Lencioni's argument: I don't think tanks belong at Veteran's Day parades.

I have always been horrified and repelled by Soviet and Chinese May Day parades that showed off those nations' nuclear-armed missiles. (Not that this ever bothered anti-nuclear "peace" protesters in the West.) It's the height of barbarism to be proud of weapons whose only purpose is to destroy millions of people.

I am happy to see soldiers marching in a Veteran's Day parade. Air shows like the Blue Angels are not militaristic, as what is being displayed is precision flying rather than precision bombing. But a tank is a terrifying object designed to dominate the battlefield. It's necessary to preserve our freedom, but it doesn't need to be part of our parades.



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