VFW will avoid Homestead parade flag flap

A local VFW post decided not to invite to the Veterans’ Day Parade in downtown Homestead the two groups that had been fighting over last year’s display of the Confederate battle flag.
BY TANIA VALDEMORO
tvaldemoro@MiamiHerald.com

One of Miami-Dade’s oldest events — the Veterans’ Day parade in downtown Homestead — will take place Wednesday without the two groups that have been fighting over last year’s flying of a Confederate battle flag.

The Arrant-Smith Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4127, which is sponsoring this year’s parade, invited several groups to march.

But no invitations were extended either to the Miami-Dade branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People or the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Only the American flag, the Florida state flag and military flags will be permitted, said Louis Melara, a parade organizer.

The Confederate veterans’ group marched with the rebel flag last November. The one-time appearance of the flag sparked a controversy among the NAACP, Sons of Confederate Veterans, the city of Homestead and the Greater Homestead/Florida City Chamber of Commerce.

The VFW stepped in last month to host the parade after the chamber’s military affairs committee canceled the event, saying there was not enough time for them to organize it.

“Commander Joe Stahl pointed out to the Sons of the Confederate Veterans that they and the NAACP would not be allowed to participate in the parade,” Melara told members of the Homestead City Council, “because they would detract from our focus of honoring the veterans.”

On Thursday, the city council unanimously approved a permit for the parade.

Stahl leads the VFW Post 4127. The reaction to his decision was mixed.

Gregory Kalof, commander of the Miami camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said in a written statement: “We are very disappointed in the decision that the VFW has made by electing to cast out another veterans’ organization to appease obvious political forces that have held our community to boycott.”

But Brad Brown, political action chair of the Miami-Dade branch of the NAACP, praised the VFW.

“The NAACP commends the Veterans of Foreign Wars for their principled stance to hold a parade that truly honors veterans of the United States military,” he said.

Copyright 2009 Miami Herald Media Co.

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