Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
September 13, 2005
WAR: Time To Plan The Victory Parade
June 12, 2007, will mark the 20th anniversary of Ronald Reagan's "tear down this wall" speech at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin. While I suppose I would prefer a more obviously non-partisan anniversary (the 50th anniversary of Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech is in March 2006, which is probably too soon to plan something like this with everything else that's going on), this would seem as good an anniversary as ever to plan something that should have been done long, long ago: a victory parade in the nation's capital for America's veterans of the Cold War.
In past wars, America celebrated victory with parades suitable to honor the returning soldier. That was never done for Vietnam, and as far as I know, it wasn't done for Korea, either. While the veterans of those wars are mostly still with us, it's past time to rectify that omission with a celebration that truly embraces their sacrifice and honors their contribution to ultimate victory over Communism.
The main reasons, I suspect, for not having a formal celebration back when the Cold War ended were (1) the way the "long, twilight struggle" ended in gradual stages and (2) a desire to let sleeping dogs lie by not rubbing Russia's face in its defeat at a time when we were trying to coax it to democracy. 15 years on, those considerations are less pressing. And it could have a salutary effect in the current struggle to remind the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan that their country has the will to win a long struggle and a long enough memory that their sacrifices won't soon be forgotten, even when we hit setbacks and ask them to fight battles that end with a whimper rather than a bang.
Whether the anniversary of the Reagan speech is used as the jumping-off point or not, of course, there's no reason why a parade honoring veterans of Korea, Vietnam and other, smaller Cold War battles would not be a genuinely bipartisan event, as there are numerous members of both parties in Congress and elsewhere who fought in those wars and would or should be interested in a formal display of honor for their former comrades in arms.
What are we waiting for?