October 14th, 2013
07:42 PM ET
10 months ago

Veterans group condemns political nature of Washington rally

Updated 10:53 a.m. ET 10/15/2013

Washington (CNN) - A veterans group behind a rally in Washington that protested the closure of national monuments and memorials issued a statement Monday distancing itself from the political undertones that took center stage at the demonstration.

“We feel disheartened that some would seek to hijack the narrative for political gain,” read a statement posted on the website and Facebook page for Sunday’s event, which was facilitated by Brats for Veterans Advocacy Group.

Veterans and many conservative activists gathered at the World War II Memorial, as well as at memorials in other parts of the country, for an organized rally billed as the “Million Vet March on the Memorials.”

High profile conservatives including Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Mike Lee and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin spoke at the event, where protesters removed the barricades blocking off the World War II Memorial.

Strong anti-Obama sentiments were voiced at the event from the podium and among the audience. The yellow Gadsden flag, better known for its “Don’t Tread On Me” message and frequently used at tea party oriented gatherings, could be found throughout the crowd.

The statement posted on the website for the event faulted a “local organizer” for the political direction that rally took.

“The political agenda put forth by a local organizer in Washington D.C. yesterday was not in alignment with our message. We feel disheartened that some would seek to hijack the narrative for political gain,” the statement read. “The core principle was and remains about all Americans honoring veterans in a peaceful and apolitical manner. Mr. Cruz, Ms. Palin and some attendees, including political parties may have not been aware of the goals of the marches which took place in over 60+ rallies across the nation.”

Brats for Veterans Advocacy Group says it’s apolitical and had a list of guidelines on the website for Sunday’s rally, advising against “political rhetoric veering away from our core message,” “disrespecting of others,” and “protest signs that do not convey the core message contained within our pages.”

The group describes itself as “military brats, current and former military spouses and some veterans” that was sharply disappointed with veterans being used as “political pawns” in the ongoing government shutdown.

On the first day of the government shutdown on October 1, a group of World War II veterans was barred from entering the open-air memorial. But with the help of a few Republican members of Congress, the veterans removed the barricades and streamed onto the site, as security guards stood aside.

The Department of Interior has since said that veterans with the Honor Flight program, as well as any person or group exercising their First Amendment rights, are permitted to visit the memorial, but the site is otherwise closed to the general public until the government reopens.

After the speeches at the World War II Memorial on Sunday, the crowd wandered down to the nearby Lincoln Memorial and removed its barriers as well.

When some officers tried to put them back up, protesters took them from the officers' hands and carried them away from the memorial. Some carried barricades to Pennsylvania Avenue and dumped them in front of the White House.

More protests will take place in Washington on Tuesday, this time by a military coalition including 33 of the nation’s leading veterans and uniformed services organizations.

Officials from these groups say there is a lot of frustration and uncertainty as the shutdown continues, such as among veterans who receive disability and GI Bill benefits and survivors who rely on survivor benefits. The Department of Veterans Affairs has said it would not be able to pay benefits if the government stayed closed through the end of month.

– CNN’s Kevin Bohn and Dan Merica contributed to this report.


Filed under: President Obama • Tea Party • Washington
soundoff (52 Responses)
  1. Wake up People!

    Sure, sure, we believe you. Funny thing though..... I didn't hear any of you innocents telling him to sit down and shut up when he was spewing that hate. Basically, too little too late.

    October 14, 2013 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  2. Tim

    As a veteran myself. I thought the protest was just fine.

    October 14, 2013 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  3. Kinard

    Sure is news worthy if the moron with the mic, gets to really speak his mind (or lack thereof).

    October 14, 2013 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  4. Pander Bear

    So the Tea Party hijacked the veterans for their partisan political gain, much like they've hijacked the entire country for their partisan political gain.

    October 14, 2013 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  5. Name carl

    Shame on the Republicans for all the hate. Shameful.

    October 14, 2013 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  6. GottaBeKidding

    So what did they think it was going to be like with Palin and Cruz there?

    October 14, 2013 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  7. dmnewsi

    Who paid for Palins trip to this event. She sure didn't pay for it herself.

    October 14, 2013 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  8. Ethic's Board

    Wait, people used can hijack events meant for good causes and spin into conventions of hateful rhetoric? I'm shocked!

    October 14, 2013 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  9. Richard

    I saw how Sarah Palin twisted the logic into Obama closing the memorial when it was the Republicans who refused to bring forth a continuing resolution to fund government. This was shameful, a shill game. As an Alaskan, once again I'm embarrassed by Sarah Palin's blatant dishonesty.

    October 14, 2013 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  10. Ike

    Tea bagger doing what they do best! Messing up everything

    October 14, 2013 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  11. BBunsen

    I can't help but think that conservatives want the government shut down, just not the parts of the government that they personally benefit from.

    October 14, 2013 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  12. elvis costanza

    Palin is a crass opportunist who would show up at a house fire if she thought she could blame Obama for it and garner 11 minutes of attention for herself. All she has to offer is her own self-loathing turned inside out and spewed on all the people she actually knows herself to be inferior to. Toxic, narcissistic witch.

    October 14, 2013 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  13. Reggie Neel

    Speaking of Hi-jacking an event.. CNN just did.. Veterans were there to open up open air monuments and who did you interview? The Veterans? No, you show clips of teaparty members who you say hi-jacked the event.. and slammed them. You avoided the entire story by directing the focus away from what the Veterans were doing to put your spin on the situation. You might ask the question, "Who Owns the Monuments"? How were they Purchased? How much did it cost to put up those barricades? Gee Folks... The Tax payers are the rightful owners....

    October 14, 2013 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  14. Richard Long

    CNN spent the whole day reporting on a "Obama Quran" quote that was uttered during the Veteran's Rally rather than providing a balanced news story about why they are holding a rally in the first place.

    October 14, 2013 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  15. hefailed

    "The Department of Interior has since said that veterans with the Honor Flight program, as well as any person or group exercising their First Amendment rights, are permitted to visit the memorial, but the site is otherwise closed to the general public until the government reopens."

    Who, from the Department of Interior, writes this stuff and makes these decisions. I'd like a name so I can write a letter.

    October 14, 2013 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    We'll said! I feel bad for the vets! Everyone has an agenda! Sorry yours was hijacked by hateful politics!

    October 14, 2013 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  17. Nick

    Ah, you can always count on CNN to try to make it out like Republicans are the ones playing politics. In fact, its the other way around. CNN leaves out the fact that VETERANS took the barricades to the White House. Love our veterans, but CNN is just paying a couple of people to say whatever they want so they can run a story negative on Republicans. Shameful.

    October 14, 2013 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  18. Gurgyl

    Look, this Healthcare is already benefitting this nation. GOP thugs want extorted. Plain, and simple. Get rid off all GOP thugs in 2014.

    October 14, 2013 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  19. xenaphon

    History has shown that those in power ought not to do harm to the citizens trained in the art of war and who are veterans of combat....it tends to not end well for those in power.

    October 14, 2013 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  20. Ken

    Glad these guys are speaking up. Democrat, Republican, or Tea Party... they have no business piggy-backing off an event like this trying to make the others look like the 'bad guy'... most of our politicians are the bad guy.

    October 14, 2013 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  21. Merle McClung

    The GOP is finally imploding. They gerrymander districts, suppress Democrat voters, now they change rules in the House to further exclude opposition to their disasterous decisions. They threaten the very character of the United States.
    I can't wait until the next elections to see them tossed out as the traitors they are.

    October 14, 2013 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  22. Richard Miller

    Well, when you associate yourself with the King and Queen and faithful Prince of Chickenhawks, your message gets a bit twisted now, doesn't it.

    October 14, 2013 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  23. nintex

    Could someone send the memo to Sarah Palin?

    October 14, 2013 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  24. ThinkAgain

    Check out H. R. 368: The GOP quietly passed this right before the shutdown, changing the House rules so that only the majority leader of the House can call for a vote to stop the shutdown.

    In the past, any member of Congress could call for this vote; now, because of this change, only Eric Cantor can call for a vote on the continuing resolution.

    Anyone still believing that the GOP did not want or cause this shutdown is a fool. And they should be asking themselves just why is the GOP so actively trying to tear our country apart.

    October 14, 2013 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  25. ED1

    Obama and his people already had the signs made it that takes about 4-6 months to go thru all the red tape. Think about it 4-6 months just to get approval and then make the signs sounds to me like this was already in the works.

    October 14, 2013 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
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