Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker, is calling for the Department of Defense to withdraw its objections to a “ticker-tape” parade honoring veterans of the Iraq war, even as Pentagon officials are insisting that New York should wait until troops have departed Afghanistan.
Ms. Quinn, speaking late Tuesday on “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC, said she was worried that the city would miss an important opportunity to honor Iraq veterans if it delayed holding a parade.
“What I want is to make sure this moment doesn’t pass us by, because if we wait too long, it will pass us by, and then the thank-you will seem late and belated,” Ms. Quinn said. She endorsed a parade, saying, “Let’s do an immediate one as it relates to Iraq and, God willing, very, very soon, let’s do one for Afghanistan.”
But Ms. Quinn, a close ally of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg as well as a leading candidate to succeed him, said she was sympathetic with his decision to delay a parade in the face of Pentagon opposition.
“I feel badly for the mayor,” she said. The Pentagon’s position “puts mayors in a tough spot,” she added, “because, do you disregard what the federal government has said to you?”
“I really think what needs to happen is the federal government or the Pentagon needs to change their position and make it O.K. for cities if they want to do this to do this,” she said.
A growing number of veterans and politicians are calling on the city to hold a parade to mark the end of operations in Iraq, as it did to mark the end of the gulf war in 1991. The advocates, including the nonprofit Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, seized on the occasion of the parade honoring the New York Giants on Tuesday to push their message, saying that Iraq veterans deserved a parade as much as the victorious football team did.
But Douglas B. Wilson, an assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, expressed frustration with the comparison on Tuesday in an interview on National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation.”
“What we’re hearing now in terms of ‘The New York Giants are getting the parade, why aren’t the vets in Iraq?’ it’s really a false argument,” he said. “This is not a question of ‘The sports team gets it; the vets don’t.’ It’s a question of when is the most appropriate time for a big, national parade.”
Asked about veterans who were expressing a desire for a parade now, Mr. Wilson said, “I think that there’s obviously a whole range of opinion, but there is a unanimity here among the military leadership, and this reflects the feelings and sentiments that were first expressed as troops were coming off the battlefield that they — folks wanted to make sure that all combat troops were home.”
The Pentagon’s position has some supporters as the parade issue is debated in social media. Brandon Friedman, for example, a veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and is now the director of online communications for the Department of Veterans Affairs, wrote on Twitter: “Pushing for a victory parade while many Iraq vets are still fighting in Afghanistan is in extremely poor taste.”