IVAW, Vets for Peace, & Military Families Speak Out
Good evening, I’m J. Allan Ruhman. I live in San Diego. I am here as an American Citizen deeply concerned over this government body’s decision to uphold the Parade Committee’s unilateral decision to deny American Combat Veterans and Military Family Members their right to March in this years Veterans Day Parade. The theme of which was “A Salute to Those Who Served “ One Team...One Mission", honoring all Veterans.
Voltaire said, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”
That what America’s Veterans of all wars do. They protect and defend the U. S. Constitution, the bill of rights, our civil liberties, our freedoms They go into harms way for us prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice.
I find it ironic that these young men and women were good enough to fight and die in the streets of Baghdad but are not good enough to march peacefully, silently and reverently in the City streets of Long Beach, California in 2007 in America in a Veterans Day Parade held to honor the service and sacrifice of all veterans, while carrying their organizational banners and flying old glory. These are bonafide Veterans Organizations that are incorporated as 501 (C3’s) Nationally and in the State of California. How un-American to deny them simply because their organizational names include words like PEACE or Against War.
Former President and Five Star General Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, it’s stupidity.” Would he be denied entry as well? Why are these Veterans Organizations seen as political, and other Veterans Organizations seen as apolitical when clearly many of them are not?
As a United States Marine Corps Veteran who served two tours in Vietnam, back to back on the ground, from September 1966 through May 1968, I am appalled at the disrespect shown these American Patriots. But most of all I am concerned with the continued precedent that this City first set in 1973, when you denied the Vietnam Veterans Against the War a permit to march in that Veterans Day Parade, that continues to this day.
Let’s call it what it is. A clever but blatant attempt to marginalize, to silence thru denial and, by inference, question the motives, impugn the reputation and call into question the Patriotism of an unwelcome, knowledgeable, and experienced citizen with whom one disagrees politically. A tactic employed all too often in our public discourse, and one that does a disservice to all Americans. This City can ill afford to continue to allow these Patriots to be discriminated against in a City Sponsored event held on city streets, that receives the benefit of tax payer dollars spent for police & fire services, street cleaning, park services, etc. I question whether standing behind the thin veil of a discriminatory 501 (C3) Corporation serves this City well. I am confident that put under a micro scope, good intentioned or not, those abuses would become quite evident. The eyes of a nation have been focused on Long Beach.
I implore you to seriously give this issue further deliberations. I’m asking you as Elected City Leaders to take a role of moral leadership on this issue and to use your good Offices to intercede and open a dialog between the Parade Committee and the affected veterans in order to address their legitimate concerns about theirs and the Veterans and Military Families’ being denied the right to march, and to right this wrong so that in 2008 these groups are accorded the same rights and respect as other Veterans groups, and so that this outrage is never repeated again against another Veteran in this fine City.