Veterans to voice discontent during Broadway rally

Oct. 12, 2013 @ 05:02 AM

Town Manager Bob Stevens doesn't know just what to expect from a gathering Sunday at Broadway's veterans' memorial — other than a possible crowd of 500 people or more. 

Despite his uncertainty about some of the details, Stevens said the town welcomes the visitors with open arms. As part of a national "Million Vet March on the Memorials,"they will be joining with their peers in Washington, D.C., and around the nation to rally against the handling of military and veterans' affairs during the government shutdown — including the closure of memorials. 

"I told them they were welcome to come to Broadway, and we'd do anything we could to help them," Stevens said, adding, "This is not a political rally; they want their voice to be counted." 

A large contingent of marchers will assemble at the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., and those who can't come to the nation's capital are encouraged to congregate at memorials in their state — including the North Carolina Veterans Memorial at 210 S. Main St. in Broadway. Activities at all sites will begin at 9 a.m.  

"There are a lot of vets going to D.C.; they are pretty ticked off about what's going on with the memorials," said Rodney Harvill, a U.S. Navy veteran who plans to attend. "This is a show-of-support rally. It's our opportunity to send that same message without having to go to D.C."

Regarding the shuttered sites, Harvill said, "These particular memorials are open-air memorials, and they should have never been blocked off. That shows a profound disrespect for the veterans who have defended this country throughout its history."

With the shutdown affecting several veterans' services and issues, the Million Vet March Facebook page states, "We cannot express how utterly disappointed we were that our Greatest Generation [was] being used as political pawns in the ongoing government shutdown and budget crisis. This should never be the case." As of Friday afternoon, nearly 70 people had confirmed their attendance at the Broadway event via Facebook.

"If the VFW embraces it, [turnout] could range from a few dozen to 1,000," Harvill said, adding that the attendees will be coming from Fayetteville, Charlotte, Greensboro and other locations around the state.

Stevens said local law enforcement, as well as the Highway Patrol and Sanford Police, have been notified of the event, and officers will be available to provide traffic control when and where required. 

"Of course, the safety of the participants and the motoring public are of the utmost importance," Stevens said.

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