Too Soon for A Veterans Parade

Monday, February 20th, 2012

In light of the recent parade to honor the New York Giants, many people are arguing that our nation’s veterans and military personnel are more deserving of a parade than our nation’s football stars. I couldn’t agree more. I have a son who is in the military and has served in Afghanistan, Iraq, and various other locations—of course I’m also a huge Giants fan, but as tough as they are, they’ve never been in a war zone. However, as much as veterans deserve all the support and applause they can get, I do truly believe that it’s too soon to celebrate.

Meanwhile, all the folks who are currently fussing about whether or not to have a parade should do something even more purposeful to support our veterans. There are tons of military organizations that need support; the financial crisis is affecting nonprofits even more than it’s affecting unemployment. So why not take the money you’d spend in getting to a parade, and instead send that five or ten dollars to Phoenix House, or Wounded Warrior, or Achilles? Our military personnel are people dealing with economic dislocation, unemployment, and issues of reintegrating into the workplace and civilian life.

It would be insensitive to have a parade when we still have soldiers in Afghanistan and a handful in Iraq. I wouldn’t want to be a family member who just received word that their loved one had been injured or killed and who was then expected to be enthusiastic about a veterans’ parade. The Pentagon is right—what if we had a parade right away, and then afterwards another soldier was wounded or killed abroad? There would be no recognition of that person’s efforts and services. And that just wouldn’t be fair. We’re better off if we wait for 2014 – or for the hopefully even earlier date – when all the troops have come back home. That will be the real cause for celebration.

 Tommy Gallagher
Board Member, Phoenix Houses of New York

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