Peace is veterans group’s focus on Memorial Day

Vietnam veteran Lee Vander Laan throws a flower into Boston Harbor in honor of a fallen soldier during yesterday’s event.

While cities and towns across the country held parades with veterans in uniform and color guards carrying guns, a different veterans group held another kind of Memorial Day ceremony yesterday in Boston.

Veterans for Peace held its Memorial Day for Peace event for the fifth time at Christopher Columbus Park where about 100 people gathered for the ceremony.

There, members of the group spoke out on the issues of suicide among veterans and repeatedly called for an end to U.S. war abroad and a start to peace.

Instead of guns, drums or marching there were white and rainbow-colored flags, flowers and folk songs.

“A lot of us were tired of respectful events at remembrances that would culminate in parades that were overly militaristic,” said Pat Scanlon, coordinator of the local Veterans for Peace group and a Vietnam War veteran.

Dozens of flowers were dropped into Boston Harbor from the park by the group in remembrance of each “fallen soldier from Massachusetts and for civilians from Iraq and Afghanistan who have died as a result of these ongoing wars,” the group said.

Some of those who spoke during the ceremony had very personal reasons why they were advocating for peace.

Kevin Lucey spoke about his son, Jeffrey, a Marine corporal who killed himself after returning home from Iraq. Jeffrey, Lucey said, had sought or been treated on various occasions at VA hospitals.

“This should never have happened to my son. This should never have happened to a veteran of our country. We have to demand more,” he said.


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