In his bland story on the annual downtown Veterans Day parade, sponsored by Veterans of Foreign War, Tallahassee Democrat/Knight Ridder reporter Gerald Ensley, strives for the local Mayberry touch.
“On a warm November day, Tallahassee threw a Veterans Day parade celebration that produced smiles from all who attended.”
Well, not quite everyone.
Take parade chairman, Korean war vet Ken Conroy. Please.
According to Florida Times Union reporter J. Taylor Rushing who witnessed this most dramatic un-Mayberry moment, the Tallahassee chapters of Veterans for Peace and the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, were literally “yanked” from the from the parade line by Tallahassee police.
Apparently at the behest of chairman Ken.
Talk about an exit strategy!
Adding even more old south Mayberry irony to the whole scene, the marching vets, who as the V- Day cant has it, “paid the price”– and were supposedly the subject of the celebration– were “yanked” for the subversive act of passing out leaflets explaining why they opposed the Iraq war.
Talk about helping Saddam and Bin Laden.
Cowardly Conroy took the low road and blamed the police. He also kindly offered to refund the dissenting vets their $10.00 registration fee.
Conroy, while admitting that he found the protesting vets “offensive” told Rushing, the “Tallahassee police wanted them removed.”
(No wonder we lost the Korean war.)
TPD Sgt. David Folsom who was in charge of security at the parade denied it.
Conroy and the police, however, graciously allowed the banned vets to leaflets on the sidewalks.
“They can have their free speech, just not in the parade,” parade czar Ken declared.
The day before the parade the Tallahassee Democrat reported that the Leon County Sheriffs office had announced the formation of a new, homeland security inspired “intelligence unit” which would monitor suspicious groups or individuals.
As PFC Gomer Pyle might put it, “Shazzam.”
JACK McCARTHY lives in Tallahassee, Florida. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org