Memorial Day parade loses sponsors; organizers cite federal budget cuts

May 8, 2013


Organizers of the National Memorial Day Parade say they are short on sponsors for this year’s event because of federal budget cuts, but they are pledging to kick off the May 27 celebration next to the National Mall with a scaled-down event.

According to the American Veterans Center, the parade organizer, several defense contractors that have sponsored the event for eight years have pulled out or reduced their contributions this year, citing the federal budget cuts known as sequestration.

Among the sponsors that have pulled out are Boeing and the Department of Defense 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee, a three-year project that recognizes the service of Korean War veterans, organizers said.

“A majority are defense contractors,” said Garrett Marquis, spokesman for the veterans center. “They say they can’t do it this year because their funding has been cut back by the Defense Department.”

Korean War veterans of an all-black infantry company took part in the National Memorial DayParade, in Washington on May 30, 2011. (Melina Mara/ The Washington Post) Korean War veterans of an all-black infantry company took part in the National Memorial Day Parade, in Washington on May 30, 2011. (Melina Mara/ The Washington Post)

The veterans center has raised a little more than half of the $400,000 it needs to put on the parade this year. An unexpected donation last week from the Chamber of Commerce in Myrtle Beach, S.C., will allow the event to broadcast on the Military Channel and its affiliates following uncertainty about whether there would be enough money for television, Marquis said.

The fundraising strategy is now turning to individual veterans or advocates for veterans to make up for the losses in corporate donations, he said.

The parade has already been scaled back because of cuts to the budget of the Department of Defense, which is taking half of the $85 billion hit to the federal government this year under sequestration.

The crews of the Boston-based ship USS Constitution and the Norfolk-based USS Arlington won’t travel to Washington. With this year’s parade paying tribute to the U.S. Army and Army Reserve, organizers had hoped to have a big presence from the reserves, but a majority have canceled to save on travel costs, Marquis said.

Military vehicles and a flyover also are out of the question, since flyovers for nearly all military events are grounded. At least one military band and other regional troops have canceled to save on busing costs, he said.

The parade is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. on May 27 alongside the National Mall on Constitution Avenue between 7th and 17th streets Northwest.

Adding to the parade’s cost is an extra $5,000 the U.S. Park Police is charging for “security enhancements” in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, Marquis said, although he did not know details.

Lisa Rein covers the federal workforce and issues that concern the management of government.
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