Fourth of July celebration morphs into Tea Party…

Band Concert - 4th of July 027

A few years back, a guy by the name of Joe McGrath wanted a flagpole put on the 400 block and he also wanted to have some kind of patriotic Fourth of July celebration. One thing led to another and in 2007, such an event was held. It somehow got worked in with a kiddy parade from the Wausau Center to the 400 block, which is actually a separate event. 
So it all seemed very nice and I checked it out, although I admit to always being a little skittish about it. For one thing, the emcee has been Pat Snyder, who does a right-wing talk show on 550 Radio. There is a reason that he is the guy and it has to do with the other players in the cast; the people who organize this thing. It all seemed just a little too partisan to me, although I couldn’t really say that it was necessarily so. Money raised from the concessions was slated to go to the benefit of military members serving overseas and who could argue with that?
It is at this point that I have to tell you that I think I’m as patriotic as anyone is. I never joined the American Legion, although I would be eligible, as a Vietnam era veteran. Nobody owes me anything for my six years in the military. I got a bachelor’s degree, work experience in my field — and frankly, I didn’t have tough duty. I have a lot of respect for all of those from whom much was asked, but I have to be honest and tell you that not all that much was asked of me and that’s just the way it is. Likewise, I’m happy to serve as a local elected official and there is more to that than simply saying the Pledge of Allegiance before meetings. So I believe in our system, I’ve been willing to serve and I’ve had the honor of being able to do that over the years.
Fast forward to 2009 and the handbill for the third annual Independence Day Celebration on the City Square says it is presented by “The American Legion and the Wausau Tea Party Patriots.” The program is pretty much the same as it has been the last two years, right down to Pat Snyder. But there is really no particular reason to consider it as an event without a political agenda anymore because it clearly is exactly that. Don’t take my word for it. Look at the website:
Scroll down. Click on some of the logos and sites like and the terminally partisan Wisconsin Family Action, Americans for Prosperity and more. Check out the signs comparing President Obama to Stalin and other ridiculous claims from the far right. These are the people you’ll be celebrating Independence Day with on the 400 block, if you go. If that’s your cup of tea, then have at it.

But I have to wonder if the American Legion is really tuned in to what they’re co-sponsoring, which is a big dose of alienation toward what could arguably be called the majority of Americans and Wisconsinites, based on the way they’ve been voting in the past few elections. More importantly, Independence Day doesn’t belong to political parties and ideologues of either the right or the left.

People have a right to freedom of speech. At the same time, I’m not interested in showing up at an event where my presence can be misconstrued as a statement that I’m truly not making. I’m not interested in being used to up the body count for people like Americans for Prosperity to crow about, as if duping unsuspecting people into joining their Tea Party under the premise of simply trying to celebrate this Nation’s birthday is somehow legitimate. It didn’t necessarily seem like that kind of a statement the last couple of years, but this year, it is.

The Tea Party folks will be on the block from Noon until 4 p.m. I understand the City Concert Band will be playing at 7 p.m. and that should be a good show. Maybe I’ll see you there.





10 Responses to “Fourth of July celebration morphs into Tea Party…”

  1. Michelle O Says:

    I was thinking the same thing. I attended the 1st year and sat with a number of local politicos. I wonder if they all realize what showing up this year means. Is Tipple planning on attending?

  2. I have no idea, but I believe he usually participates in the preceding Kids Parade, which is not associated with the Tea Party event.

  3. Perhaps you’re seeing Twitter reports late Friday afternoon, July 3 — “Wausau American Legion pulls out of Flag Ceremony on the 400 Block tomorrow due to political undertones…developing…”

  4. Traci Yackel Says:

    Since when do you own the 400 block Jim? You really need to stop acting like you do!

  5. I’m not sure where the comment comes from since I’ve never made any attempt to control activities on the block, including this one. My piece doesn’t advocate such an approach, either and the reason is simple: I don’t support it. After the Legion pulled out, people called and asked if the TEA party people still had a valid permit. My response was that I neither issue nor enforce permits, but I felt that it would be a bad idea to challenge anyone’s right to express themselves.

    I support the right of people to assemble on the block and they are welcome to be as political and partisan as they want to be. People who want freedom of expression to be protected — and I count myself as one of them — need to protect the rights of others. That’s not the same as agreeing with those ideas or not calling things as I see them when it comes to groups like Americans for Prosperity and others. If your point is that I shouldn’t have an opinion or share that with anyone else as I’ve done here, then I have to disagree.

  6. Traci Yackel Says:

    My response was in reaction to your second to last paragraph. I don’t think any of it was meant to be offensive or alienate anyone. Also, I just wanted to get back at you for posting something political on my facebook page.

  7. So we’re even, then?
    🙂 I don’t think the TEA Party event was meant to be offensive or alienating, either. It did violate the American Legion’s constitutional prohibition of promoting “partisan principles,” however. There needed to be a very clear demarcation between the several events occurring so that everyone knew exactly what was going on and could decide whether or not they belonged there. That didn’t happen.

  8. John Adams Says:


    Are you a lawyer? Please give me in precise terms when an activity or gathering becomes partisan? If a republican office holder speaks, does that make it partisan? What if democrat office holders were also invited to speak but declined? I know for a fact that all political parties were allowed to speak at the Tea Party. Why is attacking the spending goin on in Washington partisan. There Democrats who voted against the Stimulus and TARP.

    You kow as well as I that you and others who think the reckless spending by government is a good idea, labeled the Tea Party as a partisan event and organized to put pressure on the LEgion. As far as politics go, BRAVO. You’re plan worked. But it won’t work next time.

  9. John Adams Says:

    You say the 4th of July doesn’t belong to political parties or ideologues. But it always seem like the liberals have an unnerving hatred towards everything this country does. You look at our history as see how we have failed. I look at our country and am filled with pride at how far we have come.

  10. You take great liberties to say things like “You look at our history and see how we have failed. I look at our country and am filled with pride at how far we have come.” You are incorrect. I take great pride in how far our country has come, too. We view things from different perspectives. So what? That’s why we have discussions and elections.

    I have offered my opinion about the TEA parties being partisan in nature based on the underlying support network, the people involved, my own research and by what I’ve seen and heard by personally attending events sponsored by Americans for Prosperity. The link is undeniable and in fact, that link literally appeared on the Wausau TEA party website. Rather than continue to pretend that it isn’t associated with the ideological right — which it clearly is — I think people ought to just own up to it. These are the essence of partisan principles and there is a reason that all of the criticism that I get comes from the same direction on this one.

    But I appreciate your comments since I have greater faith in the process than in the individual wisdom of anyone involved in it, including me. Both sides of the spectrum are given to excesses when given the opportunity and the pendulum will continue to swing. It should come as no surprise that you’re going to get my point of view when you come to my blog, but I appreciate your visit.

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