Sunny and clear, Nov. 9 was perfect for a parade of patriotism and a walk giving tribute through Our Town. I am proud to have seen so many local families and veterans line the streets as well as many hundreds of red, white and blue parade walkers. They marched to thank our veterans as well as to honor those who died and to remember the POW/MIA whom our country lost forever. Neighbors, our freedoms were never free.
I had not planned on beginning to parade in 2013, even though I announced my State House candidacy nearly three months ago. Yet, I changed my mind several weeks ago when the federal government shut down our nation’s war memorials to veterans who had traveled to D.C., remembering their fallen comrades and honoring the military’s good works for this exceptional nation. I found this failure of government disgraceful for both political parties and for our President.
Denying access to national war memorials sparked an outrage in me. So many members of my family have worked tirelessly and selflessly to maintain national war memorials. My Uncle, Carl DiCapo, a Kansas City civic leader, headed a coalition of veterans, donors, and local officials to save the crumbling Liberty Memorial in the 1990’s. Now, Liberty Memorial stands proudly as a visual center of Kansas City and the only national memorial to WWI veterans. My dear Uncle Carl worked for years, regardless of political party, because saving that memorial was the right thing to do. In appreciation, veterans lobbied to have the street leading to the memorial named “Carl J. DiCapo Drive.”
In a similar selfless manner, most of you will remember former Congressman Ike Skelton on this Veteran’s Day. He was a good man, a Democrat, and his signature issue was being a fervent advocate for our military and our veterans. Now, we are served by Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, a wonderful woman, a Republican, and her signature issue is being a fervent advocate for our military and our veterans.
In my view, supporting our military and our veterans is not a bipartisan issue. It is a non-partisan issue.
Moreover, honoring our Nation’s veterans is a must if we hope to build a strong, patriotic corps of service members in the future. So, I was proud to lead a group down Main Street with signs that read, “God Bless Our Nation’s Veterans,” “We Thank You for Your Service,” and “God Bless the United States of America.” We must always keep our promise to them, because they have always kept their promise to us.
Our town should be proud to reinforce this strong patriotic streak to the next generation. Perhaps our city leaders should make it a priority to have Belton’s Veteran’s Day Parade become the largest on this side of the state. I believe that our city and county could achieve something great for our veterans, while building a spirit of friendship and support that stretches the political divides of our county.