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View from the Hill Blog: No Better time for a Parade

By Nicole Palya Wood, View from the Hill National Grange Legislative Blog (1/28/12)

  JANUARY 30, 2012 --

Since September 11, 2001 there has not been a single large-scale parade to honor and thank troops returning from the Middle East. During World War II, parades were held all over the United States honoring those who served, for those who returned and for those who paid the ultimate price. Granted, these parades also served to keep morale up, drive troop enrollment and the sale of war bonds. But lately I have wondered where are these parades today. 

This was my war after all, the one that has left a seared and visible scar on my past and present. It happened in my hometown, over the sky shared by the parks along the Potomac where I have distinct memories of playing with my father and the yard of my house. Even now, some of the visions of that day evoke a raw and primal anger within me that should be harnessed as a global energy source.

This war may not be easily measured by wins and losses or fit into perfect cookie-cutter definitions of rules of engagement. Terrorism is indeed a global plague that abides by no borders or laws. The impacts are indeed local and visceral and I demand a venue to celebrate those who fought for me, and they deserve nothing less.

This week, NYC mayor Bloomberg was pressed about why he had not organized a parade to celebrate the troops’ return from Iraq. He pointed his finger at the Pentagon for putting the stops out, decrying that they felt with so many troops still fighting in Afghanistan it might be premature. The Pentagon responded that they had received no such request to organize a parade in NYC or any other city.  As a side-note, NYC held a ticker-tape parade in 1945 to celebrate the vets of V-E day while troops were converging on the Islands surrounding Japan.

This weekend, St. Louis will hold the first parade in honor of U.S. Troops returning from Iraq. This is not a Pentagon-sanctioned event but rather the product of two friends who decided this parade should happen, a Facebook campaign page, and a meeting with the mayor of St. Louis. After hearing of the campaign, Anheuser-Busch and Mayflower Moving Company chipped in a total of $17,500 to aid in the logistics of the parade.

As I write this, streets will be lined in St. Louis and flags will wave.  A connection will be made between countless strangers, soldiers and civilians, as they exchange a glance worth a million thank-you letters.  With an economy in the gutter, jobless claims at an all time high and a Congress and White House that seem so dysfunctional and detached from the Americans they are tasked to represent, couldn’t we all use something to celebrate and unite behind?

We all cringe when we remember the premature but well-intended President Bush in 2003, giving a rah-rah speech to troops on an aircraft carrier in the Middle East, under a banner that read, “ Mission Accomplished.” I am not proposing we put a stamp on anything and call it over. I don’t foresee a day in my lifetime we will be granted the gift of saying farewell to the practice of terrorism or claiming any form of military “victory” in that region. For many of these troops, they will be re-deployed, possibly to Afghanistan in the next few months.  However, I think we must all commend these folks and their families who make sacrifices I cannot fathom. To them, getting home to these families and their homeland is in itself the most important “Mission Accomplished.” I just would like to have the chance to show our troops and their families how incredibly thankful I am for what they do.

So if the Pentagon needs someone to request they organize a parade here in our Nation’s Capitol, consider the request submitted. 

-Nicole Palya Wood
National Grange Legislative Director

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