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Anti-war group won’t march in parade

The Armed Forces Day Parade is scheduled to take place in downtown Bremerton this morning. - File Photo
The Armed Forces Day Parade is scheduled to take place in downtown Bremerton this morning.
— image credit: File Photo

An anti-war veteran’s group has been denied a place in today’s Armed Forces Day Parade because organizers feel its message is too political and because it violated the events rules a year ago.

But a contingent from the organization plans to participate in spite of the ban.

The North Olympic Peninsula chapter of Veterans for Peace, a national organization, marched in last year’s event, but was informed earlier this month that its members could not march in the parade this year.

The parade is organized by the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce. Local comedian Cris Larsen, who serves as parade chairman, said the group acted inappropriately last year by distributing pamphlets with a political message and by not following the stated theme of the parade.

What’s more, Larsen said the group did not carry the necessary insurance.

“They were not banned because of the message alone,” Larsen said. “They were not following the rules and were turning the parade into a political event.”

While the two groups disagree on the political nature of the Veterans for Peace group and what rules apply, they agree that all parties support the concept of peace.

Said Larsen, “Every veteran I have ever met supports peace,” he said.

VFP Treasurer Nelson Cone, a World War II veteran, agrees, saying his group “is not anti-military.”

The group has about 80 members in Kitsap, Clallam and Jefferson counties.

Cone disputed the assertion that the group acted inappropriately at last year’s parade. He said its message was well-received and prompted applause along the parade route.

“We support the troops 100 percent,” he said. “But like 70 percent of the country, we do not support this war.”

While the group will not have a place in the formal parade, it will be allowed to march in the rear, after all the other participants have traveled the route.

“They have the right to do whatever they want,” Larsen said. “They can hold their own parade. But they have used the media as a pawn with their accusations, and they are trying to turn the event into something it is not.”

The parade begins at 10 a.m. today, traveling east on Fourth St. in Bremerton, then heading north on Pacific Avenue and west on Sixth Street.

More than 160 official participants will follow the parade route.

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