A parade is not enough to honor our veterans. Adler, with a courageous act, does.
The majority of those serving in the U.S. military do it, I presume because they believe that in doing so they help preserve freedom, justice, and equality. They risk their lives because they sense that this is the truest and most honorable way to serve their country. I admire and respect their sacrifice.
However, true courage is more than facing an enemy abroad. We have to face and combat the enemy within that refuses to acknowledge past injustices and continuous oppression. We do this by taking bold stances that support the values we hold dear. We accomplish this by willing to forego traditions, in order to illuminate and educate about the truth of our history, and refusing to compromise and turn a blind eye to those who seek to preserve a system of racism and discrimination.
Moral courage is required from every citizen who is willing to denounce the symbols of slavery and racism. Those willing to take a stand, and reject the inclusion of hate memorabilia in a Veteran’s Day Parade, will surely face criticism and ostracism because their actions will be manipulated in order to avoid placing responsibility where it is due.
That our Austin Mayor Steve Adler has refused to participate in the Veteran’s Day Parade because it includes Confederate flags, and instead has chosen to serve others in need by dedicating this day to community service at the Food Bank, should not surprise us. He has been willing to put his actions where his values are, and making use of his position denounce that at this time there are still those who are willing to turn a blind eye to the fact that the organizing committee and other veterans will not protest the inclusion of these symbols of hate.
Williamson County Sheriff, Robert Chody’s reaction should give us pause to think about what it takes to have true moral courage in defending our symbols and honoring our veterans. He reportedly said “Shame on you @MayorAdler! As a veteran, I’m offended you would allow a small group to dictate the true meaning of the intent of the parade.”
The true meaning of the parade, Mr. Chody, is to honor those who are willing to sacrifice themselves in order to preserve freedom, justice, and equality. In foregoing the parade as a protest to those who believe it is not worth the trouble to forbid these hateful symbols to be displayed, Mr. Adler has shown that he understands, and lives! the true meaning of this day.
Hopefully, people like you Mr. Chody, a veteran who has been willing to defend these values abroad, will also be willing to stand up at home and have the courage to directly face those who in our home state compromise the values for which you served. I hope that you make a public and courageous stand against those who believe that it is still acceptable to display and promote those symbols of racism and oppression under the disguise of history and heritage.