"Osama bin Laden couldn't have said it better," American Legion National Commander Marty Conatser said of the Berkeley City Council Resolution, which tells the Marines that they are not welcome there. "Disgraceful, disloyal, ungrateful. These words are too kind in describing the actions of the public officials in Berkeley, who voted for this disgrace. Nonetheless, our Marines continue to bravely serve and in so doing, allow Americans to spout such foolishness. The American Legion not only strongly condemns this action by the City Council but also believes that a sincere apology is in order to all Marines, past and present."
Conatser, the leader of the nation's largest veterans organization, was referring to a measure passed by the Council 8-1 Tuesday, that tells the U.S. Marine Corps that one of its recruiting stations is "not welcome in the city, and if recruiters choose to stay, they do as uninvited and unwelcome intruders." The City Council marched in complete lock-step with radical anti-war group Code Pink in attempting to drive out Marine recruiters from its San Francisco suburb. The City Council also voted 8-1 to give Code Pink a free parking space in front of a recruiting station, along with a free sound permit for protesting once a week. Marine recruiters at Berkeley have faced harassment from protestors who regularly block nearby sidewalks, generate excessive noise and disrupt business.
"I have been a recruiter in the National Guard and I know that it's tough duty, with long hours," Conatser said. "What these recruiters do is essential to our national security. Without recruiters we have no military. And I don't think we can count on the flower children from Berkeley to protect this nation when it comes under attack. They have to remember that Marines are not the enemy; the terrorists are."Conatser pointed out that The American Legion strongly supports the war on terrorism, passing a national resolution of its own. "Resolution 169 was passed unanimously by The American Legion in 2005 and it has been re-affirmed every year since. It reminds Americans that you can not separate the war from the warrior and that the American people should stand united in support for our troops who are engaged in protecting our values and our way of life."
With a current membership of 2.7-million wartime veterans, The American Legion, www.legion.org, was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and patriotic youth programs. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through more than 14,000 posts across the nation.