Veterans for Peace Not Welcome at Veterans Day Parade
From the AP:
Maine's biggest Veterans Day parade won't feature the group Maine Veterans for Peace if organizers get their way.
Portland's American Legion Post 17 informed the group that it's not invited because of concerns that its presence would cause other groups to drop out following a flap over the American Legion's "Adopt a Flag" program.
City spokesman Peter Dewitt said it's the American Legion's call because the parade permit is in the group's name. The post's executive committee plans to meet soon and the Portland City Council is scheduled to take up the issue at its Oct. 16 meeting.
Veterans for Peace has participated in the parade for the past 15 years, but relations became strained last month.
Legionnaires set up a program in which people could be memorialized with an American flag and a plaque for $100. Veterans for Peace sent in a check in the name of an Iraqi boy who was killed. The check was returned.
A spokesman for Portland's Harold T. Andrews Post 17 confirmed the letter. "I think they're really being irrational and silly. They don't own Veterans' Day," said Doug Rawlings, who leads the peace group.
Just like last year, Maine Veterans for Peace planned to march behind a long banner accompanied by a tally of civilian and military war deaths from the past 100 years.
This year, members planned to pull a float they built decorated with 600 crosses, one for each American military death in Iraq. It was built shortly after the war in Iraq began. Three years later, the death toll stands at nearly 2,800.
The group has never been a favorite of parade organizers, Rawlings said. "They always relegated us to the back of the parade," he said.
Rawlings and the group plan to take that information to Portland on the holiday, whether or not they are in the parade.