Jan Allan Ruhman
As the point man for VetSpeak.org in San Diego, California; I have been working on the issue of the Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace and Military Families Speak Out having been denied the right to march in the 2007 Veterans Day Parade in Long Beach, California. A clear and blatant attempt to marginalize and silence through denial, and by inference, and to question the motives, impugn the reputation, and call into question the Patriotism of unwelcome, yet knowledgeable and experienced Veterans, Active Duty GI’s and Military family members with whom they disagree politically. A tactic employed all too often in our public discourse and one that does a disservice to all Americans.
Since my presentation before the Long Beach City Council, following Veterans Day 2007, on Tuesday November 13, 2007, was posted on VetSpeak.org and sent out as a “call to action” to individual Veterans, Veterans groups and their supporters, you all have rallied to the cause and forwarded the link on to friends and family nation wide. The result of which was, that the Mayors Office, City Council Members Offices and the Parade Committee Chairperson were inundated with telephone calls and letters.
Our call to action link was recieved and sent by retired USAF Major Bobby Hanafin to a friend of his, Wade R. Sanders, Esq., who is currently the Senior Military and Veterans Advisor to the Lt. Governor, John Garamendi, of the State of California. A Vietnam Veteran himself and a true American Patriot in the best tradition of the “Winter Soldier”, Wade Sanders took the bull by the horns and placed calls to the Mayors Office, the City Council Members and the Chairwoman of the Veterans Day Parade Committee.
I’m proud to report that the battle has been won. A 34 year old wrong has been righted in Long Beach. I spoke with Mr. Sanders this morning and followed up, as he suggested, with a phone call to the Chairwoman of the Long Beach Veterans Day Parade Committee and was informed that a letter will go out to the Veterans and Military Family groups denied entry in this year’s parade inviting them to participate in the parade in 2008.
From this day forward, hopefully, all Veterans’ and Military Family groups that desire to march and be honored for their service and sacrifice on behalf of our country will be permitted to march in future Veterans Day Parades in Long Beach California, and anywhere else in America for that matter; regardless of their personal political beliefs about this war or war in general. In Long Beach, Ca., at least, they will hereafter be honored and ARE WELCOME to march behind their organizational banners and SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER, a tradition that is American as Apple Pie.
Each and every one of you played a critical role in reversing this abuse of power that has gone unchecked since 1973 when the City of Long Beach first denied the Vietnam Veterans Against the War the right to march in that Veterans Day Parade 34 long years ago. You can be proud that you rose to the challenge and stood up to the politics of intolerance and defended the rights guaranteed to all Americans under the Constitution of free speech and to peacefully assemble.
We have engaged the politics of intolerance and injustice, and they have been vanquished on the field of battle. The war, however, is far from over. We have much work to do to bring the ship of state around and to restore America to the principles and ideals that this great nation was founded on. Re-engage in the political process at the local, state and national level. The 2008 Presidential Election cycle is critical for our country and the world. You can make a difference.
I’m looking forward to helping IVAW, VFP & MFSO form a large contingent to march in the 2008 Veterans Day Parade in Long Beach and invite veterans and supporters from across the country to come March with us in 2008. Your service to our country continues and for that America is a better place today than it was yesterday. God Bless you and yours. Semper Fi.