A Ticker-Tape Parade for Iraq?

Should returning soldiers from the war in Iraq get a ticker-tape parade in New York City? Some people apparently think this is appropriate. According to an article by Kate Taylor in the New York Times:

The New York Giants on Tuesday [were] showered with confetti and greeted by throngs as they are feted with the city’s most storied honor: a parade through its Canyon of Heroes.

But all the fanfare — the parade this week is the fourth since 2000 to honor a sports team — has touched off anger and unease among some returned Iraq veterans, who are eagerly awaiting their own recognition.

The Department of Defense is apparently opposed to the parade. Assistant secretary of defense for public affairs Douglas Wilson, in an interview on National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation,” explained the Pentagon’s opposition:

I think that there’s obviously a whole range of opinion, but there is unanimity here among the military leadership, and this reflects the feelings and sentiments that were first expressed as troops were coming off the battlefield that they — folks wanted to make sure that all combat troops were home.

The New York victory parade, granted, is often given to people whose achievements are less than astonishing.

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In 1927 Charles Lindbergh, of course, got a parade following his amazing solo transatlantic flight. In 1969 Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin, and Michael Collins got a parade (above) following their historic Apollo 11 mission to the Moon. But in 1953 King Paul of Greece got a ticker-tape parade just for, well, being king of Greece.

But at least in most cases there is some suggestion that the parade honors success, whether that success is defeating the Nazis (Dwight Eisenhower, 1945) or winning the Stanley Cup (the New York Rangers, 1994). According to the Taylor article:

“Everybody recognizes that the Giants deserve a parade,” said Paul Rieckhoff, founder and executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. But, he added, “If a football team gets a parade, shouldn’t our veterans?”

The Giants, however, won Super Bowl XLVI. That’s the difference. New York City did not give the Giants a parade in 2001, when the team lost the championship game.

This is not to undermine the incredible sacrifices made by American troops in Iraq, but the United States just didn’t win the war.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer