Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Iraq Veterans Against the War well received in Austin's Veterans Day parade

The Austin American Statesman had some good photos from the Veterans Day parade yesterday, but they missed one of the parade entries: Iraq Veterans Against the War. Four IVAW members marched with their banner following Monday evening's panel at UT (more to come about that.)

Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War groups marched in Veterans Day parades around the country yesterday, although VFP and IVAW chapters were denied permission to march in some cities. In Raleigh, North Carolina, for example, the parade overseer excluded the local VFP group from marching with their flag (which simply reads "Veterans for Peace" with the peace dove on helmet image) because the flag was deemed a "political statement." The parade organizer also made the confounding statement that the parade "has nothing to do with war."

I was pleased to read that the Houston VFP group marched along with several IVAW members and other supporters. Here is a report posted at Houston Indymedia:

"Members of Veterans for Peace, chapter #12 (Houston) marched in the Houston Veterans Day parade again this year on Nov. 11, joined by other peace activists. VFP invited other peace groups to march with them, and representatives of the Progressive Action Alliance, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and the Harris Co. Green Party helped carry banners, signs, and flags. Marchers were led by banners for IVAW, VFP, and a giant one saying "Stop the War On Iraq - Bring the Trrops Home Now". Signs included slogans like "Fund Vet Benefits, Not the War", and "Support the Troops - Bring them Home Now". Marchers also carried both VFP and US flags. Jim Rine, President of the Houston area VFP chapter, said, "We were in the parade to show that war is not the answer. We wanted to offer an alternative to the usual militaristic displays."

The crowd was significantly smaller than in recent years, most likely because of the 70% chance of rain for the day's weather forecast and the fact that it had rained earlier in the morning.

Responses from the crowd were overwhelmingly positive, with at least ten positive responses for every negative one. When onlookers saw the signs and banners, many of them broke into applause and shouted "Thank You" and similar slogans, while showing peace signs, waves, and thumbs up. Some onlookers reached out to shake the hands of the VFP group or give them high fives. A few onlookers uttered negative comments, but they were obviously in a minority. Even many of the VIP's in and around the viewing stand in front of Herman Square applauded the VFP group and waved to them as the group passed by."

As I watched Austin's parade from the sidewalk along Congress Avenue yesterday, I also heard a lot of supportive hoots and applause when IVAW walked by, and a number of folks stopped to shake the vets' hands as we stood near the capitol afterward. The guys said that, as in Houston, response all along the route was overwhelmingly positive. They noticed two men turn their backs on them -- the only negative reaction they encountered. An older woman in uniform (a WAVE, I think) saw their banner and remarked, "You're against the war? Well, bless your hearts" in a strangely Sarah Palinesque sort of way.

As IVAW passed the reviewing area at 7th and Congress, it was good to hear the announcer state the name of the group along with their mission statement: troops home from Iraq, full benefits for returning veterans and reparations for Iraq.
photos of IVAW members Ronn Cantu and Bryan Hannah from Ft. Hood and Michael Nordstrom and Hart Viges from Austin on Tuesday, November 11
photos by makingpeace

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