Philadelphia’s Iraq War Vets Deserve a Parade Down Broad Street

We can flood the streets to celebrate the Phillies. Why not honor those who fought for our country?

More than one million American men and women fought in Iraq. Many of them will never be the same—32,200 were wounded. Most knew one of the 4,484 who died. Every one of them sacrificed in service to country. Every one of them put their lives on the line. After eight years, eight months and 29 days, the long bloody war finally came to an end on December 15, 2011. And when all of those brave men and women came home, a grateful nation did nothing.

There have been Christmas parades, New Year’s celebrations and parades for bowl games and sports teams, but only one city in America has had a parade to honor the men and women who served in Iraq. St. Louis should be proud. And every other major city in the country should be ashamed, including Philadelphia.

In New York, there is a new push for a ticker-tape parade for the Iraq War vets, after the city was able to put together a parade for the Super Bowl champion New York Giants in two days. The war in Iraq has been over for almost two months. The path up Broadway has been dubbed “The Canyon of Heroes,” as ticker tape has rained down on those who have served in America’s wars. After the Vietnam War ended in 1975, it took 10 years for New York to finally get around to honoring the men and women who served. The Iraq war veterans should not suffer the same indignation.

Why wait for New York to get its act together? Philadelphia should immediately announce that plans are in the works to honor the area’s Iraq War veterans with a parade down Broad. While war was raging, the city basically shut down to celebrate the Phillies 2008 World Championship. The celebration was wonderful and deserved, but don’t the men and women from our area who were willing to die for us deserve a big display of our thanks, our support and our love?

Heroes. The word is tossed around too easily these days. You can be proud of the accomplishments of your sports teams. It is fun to root for them. But, heroes? Professional athletes get paid handsomely to play a game. The men and women who served in Iraq did so for love of country. They went because they were called. They would go again tomorrow to protect us and our families. They are our heroes and they deserve more from us.

I have put together an online petition asking Mayor Michael Nutter for a parade in Philadelphia to honor the more than 100,000 men and women from our area who served in Iraq. Please sign it and then pass it on through emails, Twitter and Facebook. Philadelphia should lead the country on this. The positive national media attention will be well worth the cost. More importantly, it is the right thing to do.

They were there for us; we need to be there for them now.