October 14th, 2013
07:42 PM ET
6 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. GonzoinHouston

    I understand that you're disappointed, but are you really surprised that the TP's used you and your sacrifice for their own political purposes? Now you know how the TP's see you, and where you fit in their plans.

    October 14, 2013 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  2. S. B. Stein

    The veterans who served were and are Americans. They served America in a time of need. They did it without labels of politics. Any protests should be done the same way. That should go without exception.

    October 14, 2013 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  3. Sarah Milnes

    Told ya it was a bad idea, but nooo.

    October 14, 2013 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  4. Name

    Now we know those hate from that rally was tparty hate goverup,glad they are part of the hate

    October 14, 2013 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  5. Name

    Young American veterans whom gave there life,time and sacrifice for this country , to be slapped in the face by our own commander and chief is completely dishonors us "We are America, we are the people, having a dictator for a leader whom passes bills and laws to in prison us with out question, make us have his affordable care , I'm covered by the VA, do I still have to pay, because me and thousands of my brothers are not, not going to stand for any of the wrongfully outrageous decisions these leaders of this country have made and continue to do so. Let us take back what is ours, let us take back our house and place a family of true American equalities, let us as veterans take control of our states and place true American veterans in our capital hill. The fight for american veterans has begun. Whom will fight? You!!!

    October 14, 2013 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  6. Jack

    That's what happens when you let publicity hogs like Cruz and Palin hijack your rally!

    October 14, 2013 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  7. VET-2

    Ted Cruz., Sarah Palin using people again for there agenda!! Don't you VETS feel used!!! The Teapublicans need to stop!!! made me ashamed to be a vet, I served under a number of administrations and never, ever disrespected and embarrassed the office of the presidency and my country the way it was shamed today!! Through lawlessness, race bating, talks of cessation and general disregard for what we stand for.

    October 14, 2013 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  8. John Steffen

    CNN: This report doesn't tell the whole story again. Get the bias out and get back to the true and honest reporting CNN has been noted for. If that means getting a new editorial staff do it quickly or CNN will go the way of Studebakers, Pacards, Edsels & Pontiacs

    October 15, 2013 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  9. Edward Brown

    As a veteran I am deeply offended by the appearance of Cruz and Palin at an event that should not have been political. If supporters of veterans wish to show solidarity with veterans they should do so respectfully. If their anger was at the government shutdown then the object of their anger should have been Ted Cruz, since by all reports he is one of the prime instigators of the shut down. Instead of a meaningful protest they were made, in my opinion, to look like fools by Cruz. Palin was just there to get more publicity in order to get more money, I doubt that she even understands or cares about the shutdown and the harm it does to our country..

    October 15, 2013 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  10. Doc1

    And Republicans repeatedly accuse Obama of being divisive. This vet is glad they called them out on these shenanigans.

    October 15, 2013 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  11. Tom

    So between Lec Walensa, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King.. what exactly does he suggest we do to make Obama put down his Qur'an and get up from his little prayer rug and then leave town?

    Too bad he left his clown suit at home.. it would have been hysterical.

    October 15, 2013 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  12. Bob

    The fact that veterans of all racial and ethnic backgrounds have donned the uniform to serve, protect this country, and defend the rights of cretins like these to stand in our nation's capital and spew such venomous infectious hate to cause division is disheartening.

    October 15, 2013 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  13. What's in that tea anyway?

    The Tea Party has taken over everything in this country. I can't imagine my father, in the military for all of his adult life support this angry mob of Tea party folks....He would have dispensed of Cruz, Lee and the silla from Wasilla in short order and told them in no uncertain terms, "those that serve in our military serve with honor and dedication to this country we all love" none of that includes disparaging a sitting president.

    October 15, 2013 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  14. What's in that tea anyway?

    There is one very important thing missing from the Tea Party supporters the word is "Honor and respect for all Americans"

    October 15, 2013 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  15. Barbara

    Again I will state to Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin, being stupid is not illegal so Go Home!

    October 15, 2013 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  16. Milton Cooper

    Obama isn't a Muslim or a Christian but an adept of one of many mystery babylon schools most likely learned in Harvard in the Boule after being recruited by former Sec. of State Zbiginew Brezizinski. This is also taught in Masonic lodges which advocate taking care of everybody because people in general are stupid and should be slaves to monarchies again. Manly P. Hall and Aliester Crowley are good sources to learn about this ancient secretive religion .

    October 15, 2013 03:30 am at 3:30 am |
  17. David Funk

    Kinda odd CNN's only story on the Veteran March this past Sunday is this one. Dr. Joseph Goebbels would be proud of you.

    October 15, 2013 03:54 am at 3:54 am |
  18. Thomas

    Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Mike Lee and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin

    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.

    Dick Army's Army !
    The former head of the Tea Party group said FreedomWorks paid Beck about $1 million .

    October 15, 2013 03:55 am at 3:55 am |
  19. simplefaith

    Ted Cruz you are a hypercrit indeed. You had ploted the shutdown and blamed President Obama for it. I spit on you. You have caused so much pain. Hope you get what you dished out. You are a vindictive, evil man. You must think the American people are stupid. We will remember and you will never be President of the United States. You deceive point blank and think the American people are with you. You are a sick man. Go back to the corral in Texas. Hope you end up in the Pig Sty.

    October 15, 2013 05:26 am at 5:26 am |
  20. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    The desperate Guns Over People tea potty are out of control. Americans are on to them and they can't stop talking ,as usual.

    October 15, 2013 05:40 am at 5:40 am |
  21. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ conservatives,the garbage of America.

    These teaparty GOP garbage of Erica should be rounded up like the cattle they are and these politicians like plain and the teaparty slugs lee,Cruz and Rubio should be kicked out of office!!!!!

    October 15, 2013 05:59 am at 5:59 am |
  22. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ conservatives,the garbage of America.

    The GOP garbage of America will pay for their disrespect in the 2014 16and 18 elections when the slime ball Cruz and lee and the anchor baby Rubio will get kicked out of office!!!!!

    October 15, 2013 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  23. king

    these folks will always hate Obama because of one thing, the color of his skin. lesson folks this has nothing to do with politics, because obamacare was what these same people were pushing now for years. i wonder what they would be doing right now if Obama had adopted the dems single payer policy, with the private insurance companies excluded from the whole deal. i guest they would be running around the white house with pitch forks and torches. i am still in aw that these folks blinded hate for this president are lessening to the same two guys that brought the government down on their podium. where is logic, fairness and comprehension at with this party. it would be bad enough if this was behind doors where no one can see them. but their blatant hypocrisy is paraded right in front of a national audience, does these guys actually knows what stupidity means.

    October 15, 2013 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  24. Sunflower 52

    What amazes me is the ignorance of the American people and its politicians. Do you mean to tell me that Ted Cruz, who is behind all this mess, didn't have sense enough, what with his Ivy League degree and such, to understand that a government shutdown meant that the memorials would be closed. This lilly-livered, Ivy League grad and Tea Party darling is a disgrace to our country. The men and women at that memorial should have taken him back to the "olden times" and tarred and feathered Cruz and Palin for the damage they have done.

    October 15, 2013 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  25. bassman

    The reason this group feels this way is CNN and MSNBC decided rather than focus on the Veterans removing the barricades, they would focus on this lunatic's statement that had nothing to do with the event. Palin is the mother of a vet and has a right to be there. These Veterans would have felt differently if our media had put the focus on the reason for the event.

    October 15, 2013 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
1 2 3