When young men and women put their lives on the line in military combat, they are fighting to preserve and expand freedom and democracy around the world.
And when those brave soldiers return home, no one should deny them the constitutional rights they have fought to defend.
The City of Auburn seems to think otherwise.
Auburn claims to host the largest Veterans Day parade west of the Mississippi River. The city’s mile-long, two-hour parade is paired with many other events, including a ceremony by the state’s Department of Veterans Affairs to honor individuals who have provided outstanding service to veterans.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Bellingham Herald
But the city attempted to exclude one group of veterans this year: Veterans for Peace. The internationally recognized nonprofit group of former service men and women has marched alongside other veterans in the Auburn parade for the past six years. Members were told to stay home, an action that escalated into a lawsuit over freedom of speech, a lawsuit that the city lost. A federal judge ruled Friday that the city can’t exclude anti-war veterans groups from the annual event.
The Auburn city attorney said the parade is meant to convey a “pro-military message.” He said Veterans for Peace “have a different message ... we part company with them there.”
Auburn apparently doesn’t want to honor veterans who dream of a world without war and who have the audacity to want to say so in a public forum.