February 18, 2012

Colby Buzzell [“The last thing we need is a parade,” Outlook, Feb. 12] opposes a national parade honoring returning troops from Iraq. Mr. Buzzell made the valid point that a ticker-tape victory-style celebration would be inappropriate in an environment in which the Iraq conflict is still a contentious cause.

Our annual National Memorial Day Parade on Constitution Avenue in the District already honors Iraq veterans, as well as all other veterans, in addition to those who have fallen on the battlefield in America’s wars. The parade is organized as a historical timeline, involving reenactors from the Native Americans to World War I. From World War II forward, actual veterans of these conflicts march in review. The last and most popular of the veterans are the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. The troops receive a tumultuous reception amid signs such as “We love you” and “Thank you.” The troop presence grows every year, and this year on Memorial Day we hope to have a huge welcome-home reception and parade featuring special musical groups and military activists.

As a veteran of Vietnam, I well remember the indifference and in some cases hostility that greeted returning Vietnam veterans. I and my fellow Vietnam veterans are determined that survivors of the Iraq war will not receive this kind of treatment.

James C. Roberts, Great Falls

The writer is president of the American Veterans Center in Arlington.