Tag Archives: Veterans Day

Long Beach Veterans Day Parade Photos

In 2007, our application was rejected by the city of Long Beach and Pageantry Productions because of our political stance. We were only asking for the right to march under our organization’s banner and with our organization’s t-shirts. Because we stayed the course, meeting with several officials, and making the front for several days in our local newspaper and some national television news, we were eventually granted permission to march. That was after our friends from Iraq Veterans Against the War rejected an offer to sit on the fire truck, sans IVAW t-shirts, but showed up and saluted all parade marchers in the median on the day of the march.

It was a moment we will never forget and that is another reason to continue to take this annual opportunity to be part of the parade, so we can point out that the wars continue.

We do not participate to glorify war but remind people that we want peace now. Also, we continue to have students pass out informational materials to youth, so they consider the truth and consequences about enlistment and war.

From a Mom on Veterans Day

Tomorrow is Veterans Day and many thoughts are racing through my mind. You’d think after having a son in the military for over 20 years and he being currently deployed to the Persian Gulf  (and that’s after five previous deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan),  that I would be a little jaded right now about Veterans Day. In some ways I am. Military families are worn out from 16 years of war.

We currently have over 14,000 troops in Afghanistan, and who knows how many in Iraq/Syria today.  I’ve seen data stating between Iraq, Syria and Kuwait, we could have over 12,000 troops.  As Secretary Mattis adds even more troops to the African continent, I try to contain my thoughts that wonder what is the real threat to the U.S. from Africa? I try to contain control these thoughts because our troops are stationed in too many places right now and for way too long. I just can’t wrap my head around that right now.

Just last month, Iraq’s government was debating whether or not they should ask the US to stay- update pending on that. A civil war between Kurds and Iraq’s central government is escalating, partially due to a new law that limits who can export oil, (businesses hold a monopoly on oil and the government could stop the oil flow in northern Iraq that is under Kurdish control).

Yes, something more frightening is brewing on the horizon and we all know it. The topic of nuclear war with Korea is tossed about like a bargaining chip and it scares the hell out of all of us- no one more than military families. Not even our troops are as scared as we are. We have the benefit of the long view.  We already witnessed the tragic crumbling of any diplomatic efforts after 9-11 and suffered though unspeakable losses and destruction when President Bush concocted a war in Iraq and Afghanistan and locked us into endless war. Now any diplomatic efforts are in the hands of an even a greater war monger. Even if the president’s own appointed Secretary of State dares to tone down President Trump’s dangerous and threatening language, President Trump is quick to undercut him in a moment of rage. So we feel the déjà vu.  Military families know the stench of impending war like no one else.

Hopefully, my son will be home soon. I pray that this will be his last deployment and for that wonderful day when all of our loved ones will return home for good.  I know I am luckier than so many of my Gold Star brothers and sisters. I also know the outcome won’t be a simple welcome home and we’re all good now. After after, all we do live in the Los Angeles area, the home of the largest homeless veteran population in the nation and there’s no getting away from the nightmarish fact that 21 veterans die by suicide daily and one active duty service member every day.  It’s always on my mind, but I just want him home now.

Back to Veteran’s Day. I am pestered by my inner voice of reason that keeps asking me, “Why we celebrate Veterans Day anyway?  Why was it changed from Armistice Day in 1952- a day celebrating peace and the end of World War I?”  Everyone says it’s to honor all veterans instead of just veterans from that era and theater. I’m having serious trouble with that rationale as I begrudgingly get ready to march in our local Veterans Day Parade . There’s going to be a whole lot of glorifying of war, and kids under 12 will be twirling fake rifles like batons. And oh, yeah, funnel cake.


Next year will mark the 100th year of Armistice Day. Let’s try to remember all of our loved ones on this day and that they are still fighting in a war that never should have happened in the first place. Let’s remember their needs are many, but we as a nation cannot give them our full attention that could help them heal until all of them are home safe and we are not creating more veterans in need of our care. So let’s take a moment tomorrow and consider how we can really help our veterans. Let’s bring them home now.

Veterans For Peace has a good article on Armistice Day at https://www.veteransforpeace.org/take-action/armistice-day/

Pat Alviso

Military Families Speak Out-Mom

My Thoughts On Veterans Day 2015

Last year I wrote about feeling like a zombie because I was living the life of a three Blue Star mother with my baby deployed. Today I write to you as a mother who has had one of those Blue Stars replaced with Gold. The piece of my heart that was deployed survived that tour and committed suicide at his home in Colorado Springs, CO, August 28, 2015. Sergeant First Class Tyler Milam Westbrook, 31, was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Carson, Colorado.
There is nothing that prepares a parent for that call in the middle of the night. My worst nightmare has become my reality. I knew he was very troubled — how could I not know??? I am his mother, he was part of me. Recognizing his struggle and not being able to do something was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. The intellectual me truly believes I was powerless over the path he chose. The mother in me wanted to intervene to protect my child.
Having the greatest support group in the world and my antidepressant dose tripled is what keeps me going. My time as an anti-war activist has put me in contact with wonderful people on several continents and all the time zones here back me with calls, messages and the invite to call them at any time day or night if I need to talk. My life-long friends and home town of Williamstown,WV along with many from the Mid-Ohio Valley have been the anchor/the rock/the strength that has helped my family start putting the pieces of our shattered lives back together. For this outpouring of love and support I am humbled and forever grateful.
The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month 1918 was the end to the fighting between the Allied Nations and Germany in World War I, “the war to end all wars”. It was known as Armistice Day and was to be commemorated with thanksgiving, prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace. Nearly 100 years later our country is involved in wars/conflicts/military actions that result in 22 Veterans a day committing suicide.
This Veterans Day, I will represent Military Families Speak Out at a memorial in Parkersburg,WV. Friends will stand with me as we try and generate participation in a group that truly supports the troops. At noon I’ll see my counselor and work on preserving what is left of my sanity. After that, I’ll be at the Williamstown American Legion to help serve potato soup and ham sandwiches to all the Vets that visit. During, before or after these events I will cry.
Tomorrow everyone will be back to normal, back to work and school. The sun will come up and I anticipate my heart will continue to beat like it has every morning since August 28, 2015. With these constants in place, I have no other choice than to live my life. 22 families have been devastated every day since Tyler’s suicide ripped the heart out the Westbrooks and Williamstown,WV.  I wake up every morning and think about 22 more families and communities being torn apart like we were. I imagine each suicide as a ripple on water and the far reaching ripples over lapping as they spread out. Considering the number of people touched by each ripple, this statistic has to have a profound affect.
We, as a nation, need to stop asking generation after generation to do things under the guise of “protecting our freedoms” that they are not able to live with afterwards. The latest generation of military is a very small percentage of the population and has been asked to sacrifice more than any before. Never ending war is not the answer.
I will “Honor the Warrior, Not the War” along with my brothers and sisters in VVAW. I will support VFP in returning to Armistice Day and as always work to bring them all home.
Peace today and all days,
Marcia Westbrook, MFSO