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