A Veteran stays home on Memorial Day

I suspected the call might not come this year. After two years of reluctantly turning down the invitation to join fellow Veterans marching in my town's Memorial Day parade, no request for my participation came this May. I was relieved.

I still don't know the origin of the list that somehow makes its way into the hands of well-meaning people such as the parade organizer and the kind Girl Scouts who deliver homemade cookies to our homes each Veterans Day. Somehow they know who the Vets are in my small New York town and they go out of their way to honor us, including asking us to march in the annual Memorial Day parade.

And yet every year since the Iraq war began, I simply can't do it. I don't struggle as mightily now as I did a year or two ago as my thoughts and raw feelings on the subject have become crystal clear.

It is a sick paradox that Veterans -- who should despise George W. Bush and his administration more than most -- are still among the groups that seem to stand by his side, largely supported him as recently as the 2004 election and even donated to his efforts to retain his unfortunate Command-in-Chief role. Forget the Swift Boat Liars, who so cruelly assailed John Kerry in 2004 with their fictitious and irrelevant accounts of his Vietnam service -- they're so far gone that only greed or mental illness can explain their conduct and I can only hope that none live in my town.

But as far as I'm concerned, any of my neighbors who voted for Bush -- and certainly those who support him even today, with so many more facts to work with -- have on their hands the blood of almost 2,500 of our brothers and sisters who have died in Iraq. And, while I understand that Memorial Day is supposed to be an apolitical day of solemn remembrance, I just cannot bring myself to march should-to-shoulder with them.

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