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Peace group wins right to march in Auburn’s Vets Day parade

Post by Christian Hill / The News Tribune on Nov. 9, 2012 at 2:00 pm with 16 Comments »
November 9, 2012 2:13 pm

The peace flags will fly during Saturday’s Veterans Day parade in Auburn after all.

Chief U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman ordered city officials to allow a veterans peace group to march in the parade after hearing about a hour of oral arguments in Seattle late Friday morning.

The Greater Seattle chapter of Veterans for Peace sued in federal court in Seattle on Monday after the city rejected last month its application to participate in the march in downtown Auburn.

The group, which has marched in the parade for six years, accused the city of violating its free-speech rights. The city had said in court papers that it holds the annual parade “to positively focus on honoring the military and its veterans,” and it turned down the group’s request because it “does not, in the City’s opinion, support this mission.”

Doug Honig, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, which represented the group, said he was pleased with the decision.

“It recognizes the free speech rights of a group of veterans who have served in conflicts from World War II to Iraq,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Many other diverse groups will be participating in Auburn’s parade tomorrow, including marching bands, the Sons of Italy, and a Daffodil Festival float. The city gave no good reason why Veterans For Peace should not also be allowed to march in a Veterans Day parade.”

Mayor Pete Lewis said after the hearing that the city would comply with the judge’s order.

“The parade will take place on Saturday, and the great thing about the United State is that we are a nation governed by laws.”

Lewis said there’s been no discussion at this point about whether to appeal the decision.

“We’re concentrating on the largest Veterans Day parade west of the Mississippi and that really does take up some of our time,” he said.

Members from chapters in Tacoma, Bellingham, Olympia and Kitsap County have joined the Greater Seattle chapter during past parades. About 45 people marched last year. In prior years, group members have held the American flag, peace flags — where a peace sign replaces the field of 50 stars on the American flag — and signs calling for the nation’s exit from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The group said it honors service members and veterans through its work to “abolish war as an instrument of national policy so that no soldier will be ordered to place limb, life, or soul in jeopardy for an unjust or unworthy cause.”

Follow Christian Hill on Twitter @TNTchill

Leave a comment Comments → 16
  1. Are you seriously saying these Vets who fought but simply want Peace which all vets are ostensibly fighting for are unpatriotic? Were you in the Military WRAPPER98439? Didn’t think so…..

  2. I think you’re wrong, ruckus. The veteran’s parade is to honor veterans, not an advertising tool for any particular groups political agenda. By waving a mockery of the American flag, this group transcends their veteran status, to become public agitators.

    It’s a whole lot like allowing “pedophiles for peace” to participate at a gay rights parade… it might be legal, but it’s not right.

  3. DocMaynard says:

    So, we only honor Veterans who honor our political views? This is why Wesley Everest was killed in Centralia, because he wanted to see unions implemented in the Washington timber industry but that was in opposition to the beliefs of the American Legion who attacked the IWW hall and forced the union members to defend themselves.

    As a veteran, the father of sailor, and a descendant of a family with veteran’s in every war since the French and Indian Wars, I am sick of people repudiating the veteran status of an individual because they just don’t buy into some mis-guided fundamentalist Christian, ultra-conservative, hawkish mindset. These veterans, and all veterans have served to keep America a country where Freedom of Speech is the first right enshrined in the Bill of Rights, and by saying the Veteran’s for Peace do not have the right to march, you are disgracing the memory of all the veterans who fought and died for this freedom.

  4. CrazyJim says:

    A judge brings old Pete Lewis to his senses and makes him do the right thing. I guess if that is what it takes

  5. You miss my point, Doc. The Veteran for Peace should be free to march alongside their comrades… but without the flag.

    To introduce their “peace” flag into this otherwise apolitical parade turns it from a celebration of all veterans into a display of their (V4P) political agenda.

    Too bad a few well intentioned zealots have to ruin what is otherwise a peaceful celebration into a confrontation of political ideology.

    But then, I imagine that’s why they do it, to focus attention on themselves, not the veterans the parade is honoring.


  6. This is a good and just decision, one that was very predictable by past court decisions.

    As a veteran I applaud honoring all veterans. In my 30-year career, first as enlisted and later officer, I know that we need men and women who will do their duty and use their experiences to make this a better country, while continuing as military or in civilian life.

    I may not agree with all the issues of a particular group, but I respect their right to present these issues to the American people.

    I remember rallying around the peace symbols of various kinds, the flag, the “V” hand sign, etc., during Vietnam when those of us who had an overview as well as first-hand experience knew it was unjust, unnecessary and destructive.

    This group reminds us that military conflict should not be the first option and that we should make sure it is necessary before engagement.

  7. Commandtiger says:

    I see the ACLU jumped right in the fray, They never get involved in any thing but to go against the Veterans,, I don’ think they even care for the Military,, be it Veterans for Peace or Just Veterans who fought in all of the wars we have been sent to by Our leaders, and Lawyers who are mostly the ones in the Government offices where the men and women they have sent to war lets them run for that office and send us to the next war after these we are in now are over!!!

  8. The ACLU got involved because it’s a First Amendment issue. Any other aspect of the suit is irrelevant.

  9. DocMaynard says:

    Well, if it is an apolitical parade, then the American Legion must also be banned from the parade as they have a long past of opposing those who disagree with their politics, from the Centralia Massacre in 1919, to official letters to Clinton to pull troops from Yugoslavia, or their current pamphlets on organizing grassroots efforts against the ACLU and opposition to organizations promoting the separation of church and state.

  10. MrCarleone says:


    You sir, are an ignorant ahole!

  11. Sure they do, Doc, but they don’t bring their agenda to the parade via protest signs and paraphernalia.

    Again, it seems to me the Veterans fro Peace are using the parade as a media tool, not a venue to honor veterans.


  12. dardena, and if they are using the parade to get their point of view across to the public, then the Constitution says it is their right.

    (I disagree that supporting peace is anti-vet. I think it is the very thing most of us vets fought for – a nation, secure and peaceful that is not fighting wars with countries that do not pose a threat to our security.)

    What is it about freedom of speech in publically-supported venues that people don’t understand?

  13. notimetobleed says:

    So it is only a parade for Pro-War Veterans? I don’t think any soldier actually wants to go to war, they are warriors not war mongers.

    Yes, a strong military is the best way to keep peace, so you can be Pro-Military without being Pro-War.

    They have every right to march in that parade and we all owe them gratitude for their service.

  14. the3rdpigshouse says:

    The disgusting deterioration of a once great nation continues unabated!!

  15. I wouldn’t disagree they have a right to join the parade, my objection is the offense they cause to others by bringing a mockery of the U.S flag… their so-called “peace flag.”

    It’s sort of like pissing in a jar with a crucifix inside, soas to ridicule others; it’s just plain offensive and should be left to other venues.


  16. dardena, I am sorry you are so anti-peace. The pro-war faction causes a lot of offense, too, and unfortunately a lot of needless deaths and destruction.

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