The 2013 San Diego Veteran's Day Parade went off without a hitch, thanks in part to redoubled efforts from the San Diego Police Department to clear the parade route of homeless veterans.
"Studies have shown that fully 56% of San Diego's homeless served in the military at some point," said parade organizer Ruth Lesslie. "Many of them have substance abuse issues, and many others have psychological issues, and many of those issues stem from trauma related to their time spent in uniform. It's tragic, but it's also extremely ugly and depressing. That's not really what a parade is about. I mean, we have children there, waving flags and expressing their gratitude for the sacrifice that veterans make. Imagine some little girl having to listen to a drunken ex-Marine yelling from the bushes about the time he shot a 15-year-old boy wearing a suicide vest. Or if an eager boy marching alongside the parade should have to step over an unconscious man in an old Army jacket — one sleeve hanging emptily askew. It would be confusing at best."
Lesslie was quick to point out that the homeless vets were not simply "pushed out of the way where people wouldn't have to see them and their representation of the awful toll of war. After rounding them up, we drove them to the old Central Library, and gave them the run of the place." The central branch has been closed ever since the opening of the new Downtown San Diego Library, "but we thought they might enjoy a little time in a familiar setting. Who knows? If the day goes well, we may just let them stay. It's not like anybody else is ever going to need those microfilm magazine archives."