Richmond, California Mayor Gayle McLaughlin Skipping Veterans Day Memorial to Attend ‘Occupy’ Rally
Richmond, California Mayor Gayle McLaughlin is raising eyebrows and ire with her decision to skip a Veterans Day memorial to attend an ‘Occupy’ rally.
The San Jose Mercury News reports that McLaughlin will not attend tomorrow’s Veterans Day Salute, a non-city event sponsored by the Chevron corporation and the Richmond Museum Association. The festivities will include a re-enactment of the launch of a World War II ship from the city’s shipyards.
The memorial event and the ‘Occupy’ rally are both scheduled for 11am tomorrow.
Jeff Rubin, organizer of the Veterans Day memorial in nearby Pinole, was incensed by McLaughlin’s decision. “She has very little respect for the country and traditions,” he told the Mercury News. “Everything with her is political. I think the day was picked on purpose.”
Actually, the date was chosen because it is 11/11/11/, a once-in-a-century occurrence.
“As mayor, she has a responsibility to everyone in our community, not only the disenfranchised and the unemployed, but to the veterans as well,” Rubin added.
Michael Klasno, who heads Gold Star Dads of America, a support group for fathers who’ve lost children in America’s wars, called McLaughlin’s decision a “slap in the face” to veterans and grieving parents. “You don’t blow off the veterans of the United States for anybody, and you certainly don’t blow it off for Occupy Wall Street,” he told the Mercury News. “As somebody who’s paid the ultimate sacrifice, that to me is beyond the pale.”
But McLaughlin counters that the ‘Occupy’ rally will honor Scott Olsen, the U.S. Marine Corps and Iraq war veteran who was seriously injured when riot police fractured his skull at a recent ‘Occupy Oakland’ protest. And she says she does have great respect for America’s veterans.
“I choose to honor our veterans, not only on Veterans Day, but daily, by supporting an end to military warfare to prevent further fighting and dying in needless wars,” she told the Mercury News. “I am a strong supporter of Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War.“
McLaughlin, who presides over the Bay Area city of 103,000 residents, said that she is also respecting vets by exercising her freedom of choice. “I think a good way to show respect for our veterans is to put all our energy into promoting the values that veterans fought for and some of them died for,” she told the Mercury News.
The easy thing to do would be to slam McLaughlin as anti-American and to launch into an O’Reillyesque tirade about what a “pinhead” she is for “not supporting the troops.” But wait. What is the best way to really support them? By waving flags and spouting patriotic platitudes about how much we love our troops even while we shamelessly allow hundreds of thousands of veterans to live on the streets? By cheering them in parades or on holidays then turning our backs as more War on Terror vets kill themselves than die in combat? We Americans are really good at bumper sticker patriotism. But when the next war comes along, most of us will obediently– even enthusiastically– swallow whatever concocted casus belli our (mis)leaders serve up, not pausing for a moment to consider the real reasons this nation usually wages war. And those are never in the troops’ best interest.
If we truly supported our troops, we would not allow them to be sent to kill and die in far-flung lands that pose no threat to America’s existence. The last time this nation entered into a just war was 70 years ago. Since then, every single conflict the United States has fought has been a war of choice, and usually one rooted in imperial ambitions. And who bears the brunt of the bloody burden? Our men and women in uniform. Who gains from their selfless sacrifice? Not them, and not the average American citizen. No, the big winners are in Washington and on Wall Street.
Meanwhile, the rest of us foolishly celebrate our nation’s wars. Why? We ought to be ashamed of them. What is war but the ultimate failure to solve our problems by more civilized means?
It would logically follow that the best way to “support our troops” is to aggressively oppose the wars that claim and maim so many of them. And by working with groups like Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War, Mayor McLaughlin is doing just that. She deserves the highest praise, not scorn from mindless chickenhawk pseudo-patriots so wrapped in the flag that they can’t see what’s best for the brave men and women in uniform.
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