Veterans of what?

A San Jose Mercury News reader was upset that the Veteran’s Day parade honored veterans of war.

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

More leaflets calling for improved veterans’ benefits? Well, they did travel far.

About Joanne


  1. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Ann, next year never mind. We won’t miss you.

  2. Many veterans fought in wars…

    That was my understanding as well.

  3. I actually understand what she’s trying to say, but it is that very entity (war) which exacts the ultimate price from the veteran. They are, unfortunatly, inseparable.

  4. jeff wright says:

    If you think this woman cares one iota about veterans—other than as just another group in the seemingly endless line of “victims” that California lefties “celebrate”— think again.

    Yet another reason why this native Californian and veteran will pick up stakes when it’s time to retire.

    I wonder what she thinks now that Arnold is governor.

  5. Insufficiently Sensitive says:

    This insufferable posturer needs only this admonition to illuminate her thinking:

    “Want peace? Just stop the struggle”.

  6. I’m pretty much a peacenik, but I think the Vets get to say what they put in their parade.

  7. Can I presume Ms Lencioni’s response to 9/11 would have been to send baton twirlers, leaflets, and marching bands to Afghanistan? Is this person allowed to go outdoors without adult supervision?

  8. As inscribed on the Korean War Memorial on the Mall:

    “Freedom Isn’t Free”

    and perhaps more distressing for people of this ilk:

    Qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum.
    [Let him who desires peace, prepare for war.]

    – Flavius Vegetius Renatus

  9. Bill Leonard says:

    Ms. Lencioni’s response is typical of those who feel no need for a military or, probably, for such necessities as defense spending.

    Jeff, I too am a Californian and veteran, and I only hope the California economy doesn’t totally implode within the next five or six years. After that, I’ll likely be outta here too.

  10. I think I can see where Ms. Lencioni was trying to go with this, but she failed miserably in her wording.

    Provided the causes were just, America (and all other nations in the world) *should* celebrate the outcome of the war even if it does not glorify war.

    You can pray with all your heart that nothing like (say) WWII ever happens again. You can wish that events in the world turned out differently, so that the war was never necessary. But even then you still (a) celebrate the fact that the good guys won, and (b) celebrate and honor those who brought the victory; i.e. the vets.

    I think Ms. Lencioni demonstrated an inability to distinguish between honoring veterans and celebrating the outcome of war, and glorifying war to the point where we see it as anything but the absolute last resort in conflict resolution.

  11. Her letter is about as irrational as wanting to celebrate a new house but being afraid to look at or even speak of the hammers and saws that were used to build it.

  12. jeff wright says:

    > Can I presume Ms Lencioni’s response to 9/11 would have been to send baton twirlers, leaflets, and marching bands to Afghanistan?

    Actually, I wonder if her response might not have been similar to that of lots of “enlightened” citizens here in the SF Bay area: “What did we do to upset those poor, misguided people to make them fly airplanes into buildings?” Accompanied, of course, by a whole lot of hand-wringing, soul-searching and anguished cries about the evils of American society.

    Bill Leonard: I guess I won’t be able to sell you my house, eh?

  13. mcjrotccadet says:

    I for one, was at the parade. I am a fourth year cadet and have been going to that parade for many years. I am not a supporter of war, and neither were any of my rifle toting friends marching in the parade, it was merely a chance for us to show our skill, not to promote war