Veterans disrespecting other veterans

  1. I've always believed that most veterans were fighting to preserve our freedom and part of that was our right to free speech. But apparently that freedom extends only to those who share their own views.


    Published on Tuesday, March 11, 2003 by the Boston Globe

    Veterans Differ on Antiwar Protest
    Groups arguing on St. Pat parade

    by Farah Stockman

    A decision to bar an antiwar veterans group from marching Sunday in South Boston's annual St. Patrick's Day parade has politicians running for cover, as former servicemen face off over the pending war with Iraq.

    A spokesman for Mayor Thomas M. Menino said yesterday that the parade is private and that the mayor could not get involved.

    US Representative Stephen F. Lynch's office said the South Boston congressman ''doesn't think it would be appropriate to meddle.''

    ''It is his hope that the veterans groups work things out among themselves,'' said Lynch aide Matt Ferraguto.

    But there seemed little chance of that yesterday.

    The controversy erupted last week, when the group Boston Veterans for Peace faxed in an application to march with other veterans in South Boston's annual parade celebrating the neighborhood's Irish heritage and honoring the men and women serving in the armed forces. The Veterans for Peace said they planned to carry signs denouncing the prospect of war with Iraq.

    But on Friday afternoon, the parade's chief organizer, John ''Wacko'' Hurley, consulted with members of the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, a coalition of veterans groups that puts on the parade. About 18 people gave their input, Hurley said yesterday, and all were in favor of barring Boston Veterans for Peace from the march.

    ''I don't want our marvelous men and women going over there and fighting, but you still have to go along with the leaders in Washington,'' said Hurley, 72, who has organized the parade for decades.

    So Hurley called John Redue of Somerville, head of Boston Veterans for Peace, which is a local chapter of a national organization and has about two dozen active local members. Hurley told him his group did not have an ''appropriate message'' for the parade, Redue said.

    ''I was more shocked than anything else,'' said Redue, 32, who served in the Air Force from 1990 to 1999. ''People apparently don't think you can be for peace and support the troops at the same time. I think questioning policies . . . is the duty of patriots.''

    It was not the first time Hurley has ignited controversy by barring a group from the parade. A decade ago, his ban on an Irish-American gay and lesbian group was argued all the way to the US Supreme Court, where justices voted unanimously in his favor, declaring the parade a private affair.

    ''The Supreme Court of the United States gave us the right to pick and choose who we want in and who we don't want in, and that's the bottom line,'' said Hurley.

    Anthony F. Flaherty, a Boston Veterans for Peace member who was born and raised in South Boston, took last week's rejection personally. Years ago, Hurley was best man at his wedding. When Flaherty's 25 years in the Navy overlapped with Hurley's for four years, the two spent their days off together. ''No veteran who has seen action would deny a fellow veteran, a buddy, respect and the right to march,'' said Flaherty, whose time in the military included three years in Vietnam. ''I have seen young men die. . . . I'm a retired naval officer and a combat vet, and I daresay I have more legitimacy than those who are denying us the right.''



    What a shame.
    Last edit by SharonMH31 on Mar 11, '03
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  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   pickledpepperRN
    "What a shame."

    Amen
  4. by   Grace Oz
    It's sad, but I'm not surprised. Seems that veterans in a lot of countries are very fragmented these days. Here in Australia our veterans are spread out amongst several different organisations
    & each organisation seems to be fragmented in it's policies. They need to be all under the ONE banner
    & working for the good of ALL veterans. But while you have some vets who think "their war" was a "real war" & denigrate other vets etc etc, you will always have division between them rather than
    unity. No wonder governments get away with neglect of our veterans... divide & conquer is their aim & the vets, sadly, have fallen into the great divide.
    This is just another example of one veteran group
    dis-engaging another. Sad.
    Cheers,
    Grace
  5. by   Mkue
    Originally posted by SharonMH31
    ''The Supreme Court of the United States gave us the right to pick and choose who we want in and who we don't want in, and that's the bottom line,'' said Hurley.

    [/i]
    I think this is a personal issue between these veterans groups. The last parade Hurley organized was decided by the Supreme Court and had nothing to do with war. Other groups can form their own marches/parades, it's being done all over.
  6. by   sjoe
    "I've always believed that most veterans were fighting to preserve our freedom and part of that was our right to free speech. But apparently that freedom extends only to those who share their own views."

    You mistakenly lump all vets together, as though we all had the same opinion about the utility, wisdom, or timeliness of a given war--and you are wrong.

    What most of us have served (or "fought," if you like) to protect, is the US Constitution and the security of the nation. The US Supreme Court has determined that the Boston Irish parade can select its own participant groups, as it believes the Constitution provides. So be it.

    This same right of free expression is available to any anti-war group that chooses to have its own parade. It could choose to exclude pro-war groups or whatever it decided were "extremist" or "off-topic" groups, just as the Boston Irish parade organizers have done.

    "Free speech" does not entail the obligation of a private concern (such as this parade or a city newspaper or a nursing BB, for that matter) to provide a forum for anyone at all to say or write just anything he/she happens to want to express. But this "anyone" is free to create his/her own newspaper, BB, parade.

    Fair enough, IMHO, (and in the opinion of the US Supreme Court as it interprets the US Constitution).
    Last edit by sjoe on Mar 12, '03
  7. by   kmchugh
    Originally posted by sjoe
    "Free speech" does not entail the obligation of a private concern (such as this parade or a city newspaper or a nursing BB, for that matter) to provide a forum for anyone at all to say or write just anything he/she happens to want to express. But this "anyone" is free to create his/her own newspaper, BB, parade.
    This one statement well sums up the salient point of the argument. If those in favor of peace wish to organize their own parade, the are certainly free to do so. However, it is NOT incumbent on the organizers of this parade to provide these veterans with a platform which some feel does not support deployed troops, regardless of statements to the contrary by anyone. But more on that later.

    Kevin McHugh
  8. by   Hardknox
    Coming from Boston I can tell you that this is a SOUTHIE thing and Whacko Hurley is the organizer--it is HIS parade and has been for years. He is a vet and local pol who spends enourmous energy on this parade and although he may have asked for input from others, he calls the shots. I don't believe it has anything to do about vets not supporting vets. Whacko kept out the gays from the last parades and this year he's keeping out anti-war vets. It's HIS parade folks. He spends all year getting funds, organizing it and the supreme court has upheld his right to do so. Anyone who tries to make this into a vet vs. vet thing is barking up the wrong tree. It is a group of organizers and their private parade--which is a big deal in Southie--doing their thing. And all other issues aside it is a fun day in Southie.

    South Boston has changed over the last few years with property values rising out of sight and many of the oldtimers have died or had to leave because of the cost to live there. Formerly an Irish American enclave, it is becoming more diverse. Maybe in future years the parade will reflect the diversity of folks and opinions that is America. Don't expect anything to change while Whacko is in charge .

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