Tulsa’s annual Veterans Day Parade is always one of the more moving parades. It stirs the patriotism and the heart of even the most cynical.
It is the city’s chance to say thank-you to all those who served this country, and the chance to reflect on what they sacrificed for our freedoms.
It’s a parade for all American vets. All of them.
I am not one of them. The closest I got during the Vietnam War was 1-A status and a draft physical in Oklahoma City. Then I got lucky with a high lottery number. My late dad served in Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army in World War II. He was in the Battle of the Bulge. I had two other uncles who also served.
Nevertheless, I have attended my share of Tulsa Veterans Day parades in honor of my dad, and friends and co-workers who also served.
So, I and every other American ought to be offended by the reaction of some to the admission of a float in the upcoming parade by Oklahoma Muslims.
Upon notice of the Muslim float, a member of the Tulsa 912 Project, a conservative group, told Tulsa World Faith and Values Reporter Bill Sherman that it was “atrocious” to ask veterans to “march alongside people who represent our enemies in a current war.”
Here are some interesting facts: Muslims have fought in wars for the United States since the country began as both U.S. citizens and foreign fighters. They served under George Washington, they fought in the War of 1812, the Civil War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and, yes, in the Gulf wars.
And they died, just like the other Americans.
When are we going to get over the asinine idea that everyone has to be a Christian, or maybe Jewish, in order to be a real American?
Such ideas soil the very thing that we are celebrating on Veterans Day. The American veteran comes in all colors and faiths. They all ought to be respected and honored equally.
Adam Soltani, executive director of the Oklahoma Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told Sherman that “It’s something we have been wanting to do for years.” He said the float, sponsored by CAIR-Oklahoma, will “represent the Oklahoma Muslim community, which is a very diverse community of people from all walks of life, immigrants, indigenous people.”
Patsy Varnell, vice president of the Tulsa Veterans Day Parade Association, told Sherman that the parade is “non-religious.” “We feel that we are exercising the rights established by the Constitution of freedom of speech, and this group has the right to participate.”
The organizers of the parade have it right and are due our thanks for standing up.
This might seem an oversimplification to some, but does the gentleman at Tulsa Project 912 realize that he might also be marching next to some Germans or Japanese or Koreans? They also served in the U.S. military, many with great distinction. And they are Americans, too.
The practice of Islam does not exclude anyone from being an American. It does not mean that they cannot love their country. It does not mean that their service to their country ought to be ignored.
Yes, there are some Muslims who have misrepresented the religion of Islam to meet their own perverted goals. But show me any ethnic group, including white, Christian Americans, who have not had that problem.
This is not a defense of everything CAIR has done. It is a condemnation of those who would put every Muslim and every Muslim-American into the same pot. It’s unfair.
I hope that this year’s parade on Nov. 11 will be as well-attended as those in the past. I imagine that most veterans realize that a person’s religion or color doesn’t make a bit of difference on the battlefield.
The fuss over the float is an insult to all Americans who fought for this country. To try to deny Americans the opportunity to show their support and allegiance to the country is an insult to our Constitution and our way of life.
It’s simply un-American.