The Cold War, from 1945 to the Soviet Union’s breakup in 1991, was all about avoiding total nuclear war. It turned hot in Korea and Vietnam and sparked conflicts from Lebanon to Grenada. But soldiers on duty between flare-ups didn’t do battle. When the war that wasn’t came to an end, they got no monuments, no victory medals.
Nor can they join the American Legion—which makes the parade of Cold War vets in Manassas a minor hot spot of its own.
The idea came out of Legion Post 10, a brick building with a long bar on Cockrell Road. The parade committee was in a room behind the bar one evening, talking protocol and Porta-Johns. Most were career retirees, yet 50 years after the Cuban missile crisis, the Legion’s exclusion of Cold War short-timers was on their minds.
"You have to serve in a declared war," said Mark Meier, the post commander, a 44-year-old retired Marine. "That’s our charter."