"Iraq veterans, apparently, merit neither bunting nor ticker tape"

Iraq veterans, apparently, merit neither bunting nor ticker tape. This is not as it should be. When the marching bands finally began playing for Vietnam veterans in the 1980s, it was said that never again would we deny a proper homecoming to American soldiers, misbegotten war or not. Love the soldier, went the never-persuasive refrain, hate the war. So why is it that nothing has been learned and nothing remembered? It is past time to celebrate Iraq’s veterans with a welcome-home parade. …

Thus far, and aside from the laudable exertions of New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, a Democrat, and U.S. Representative Peter King, a Republican, the idea has gotten no traction at all. Exactly why this should be seems obvious. Yet never mind for a minute the wisdom of the war. Never mind, too, whether you insist it has been won or lost. The only question we should be asking is: Where do we find ticker tape in 2011?

Iraq has gutted the ranks, killing nearly 5,000 men and women in uniform and wounding over 30,000 more. Walking on lower Broadway last week, however, all that I saw etched into the sidewalk were commemorations of ticker-tape parades from a distant past, feting baseball teams, astronauts, and veterans of ancient wars. The Iraq War has been memorialized, but only in makeshift shrines and plaques that, in the case of the brigade combat team (from the First Armored Division) I know best, were erected and paid for by the very soldiers dispatched to fight the war to begin with. …

A proper homecoming would respond to multiple needs unrelated to glory as such. …