Politics at the parade
A military parade in a military town is something candidates for office don't dare miss, even though politics has to give way to honoring those who wore, and continue to wear, a military uniform.
This happens only once a year. And this year, it came eight days before the mayoral primary. But this event was solely about the veterans – not only about honoring those who served the country, its also about taking care of those who were injured or maimed in combat.
Combat veterans like James Green who served in Iraq as a recon scout. He says it was pretty intense, and dangerous. “I lost a lot of people over there, so I'm dealing with that every day, and just generally anxiety from be in the military.”
He's staying at the Veterans Village as he tries to deal with PTSD and combat stress. “It's going a lot better right now, when I first got out it was pretty rough, you know, a lot of the time you think there's danger around, and there's not. You're so used to being in that mindset that it just doesn't go away right away.”
Green says he'll likely be dealing with this the rest of his life.
His sacrifice is what we honor on Veterans Day, and this is why the candidates can't just show up, they have to set aside politics and be part of the event. In a military town candidates running for office can't afford to be absent from the events involving veterans, especially a veteran's day parade.
“Absolutely, absolutely particularly a military parade like this,” says Lt. Col. Greg Kalina. “If they don't that means they're not supporting the military, if they don't support the military we're in big trouble.”
Candidate Nathan Fletcher knows this perhaps better than the other candidates. He's a marine combat veteran.
“You don't have to serve and wear a uniform to care and be committed to our veterans and I think we see this today,” said Fletcher at the parade today. “We see San Diegans from all walks of life come out to honor all those who serve.”
It's a chance for those who haven't served in the military to show their support.
“One day a year, just one day a year we come out and honor their service,” continued Fletcher, “and I think all San Diegans whether running for Mayor or not should do that.”
Candidate Kevin Faulconer came out early with a group of campaign volunteers to help set up the event. “This parade means so much to so many San Diegans of all generations,” he says, “and it's a day to not necessarily focus on politics but focus on let's do what's right for this community.”
Candidate Mike Aguirre was showing the flag, riding with the Logan Heights Veterans of Foreign Wars. And fellow Democratic candidate David Alvarez spoke at the Logan Heights veterans memorial. “I want to thank the families for coming today,” he said, “to teach the little ones about the value of what our veterans mean to us.”
Long Beach junior high school student Destin Bigsby showed up with a video camera, shooting a 7 minute documentary. “I'm gonna ask some veterans about their views on how the government is treating them,” he says, “and if they feel they're getting the support they need for PTSD and other factors.”
Bigsby will enter his video in C-SPAN's student camp competition. His goal is to let Congress know how veterans feel about how they're being treated.