Share this article

print logo

With subdued end to Iraq War, no parade in sight

Americans probably won't be seeing a huge ticker-tape parade anytime soon for troops returning from Iraq, and it's not clear whether veterans of the nearly nine-year campaign will ever enjoy the grand, flag-waving, red-white-and-blue homecoming that the nation's service members received after World War II and the Persian Gulf War.

Officials in New York and Washington say they would be happy to help stage a big celebration, but Pentagon officials say they haven't been asked to plan one.

Most welcome-homes for the Iraq War veterans have been smaller-scale: hugs from families at military posts across the country, a somber commemoration by President Obama at Fort Bragg, N.C.

With tens of thousands of U.S. troops still fighting in Afghanistan, anything that looks like a celebration could be seen as unseemly and premature, some say. "It's going to be a bit awkward to be celebrating too much, given how much there is going on and how much there will be going on in Afghanistan," said Don Mrozek, a military history professor at Kansas State University.

Two New York City councilmen, Republicans Vincent Ignizio and James S. Oddo, have called for a ticker-tape parade down the stretch of Broadway known as "The Canyon of Heroes." A similar celebration after the Gulf War was paid for with more than $5.2 million in private donations, a model the councilmen would like to follow.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said last week that he was open to the idea but added, "It's a federal thing that we really don't want to do without talking to Washington, and we'll be doing that."

Ignizio said he had been told by the Mayor's Office that Pentagon officials were concerned that such a celebration could spark violence overseas.

The last combat troops in Iraq pulled out more than a week ago. About 91,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors, air personnel and Marines are in Afghanistan, battling a stubborn Taliban insurgency and training Afghan forces so that they eventually can take over security. Many U.S. troops who fought in the Iraq War could end up going to Afghanistan.

The benchmarks were clearer in previous wars. After World War II, parades marked Japan's surrender. After the Gulf War, celebrations marked the troops' return after Iraqi forces were driven out of Kuwait.

The first large-scale event honoring Vietnam War veterans was not held until 1982, when thousands marched in Washington for the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Parades were later held in New York in 1985 -- 10 years after the war ended -- and in Chicago the next year.

There are no comments - be the first to comment