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National Memorial Day parade loses sponsors

| Saturday, May 11, 2013, 6:36 p.m.
FILE - This Feb. 28, 2013 file photo shows a visitor viewing the National Mall from the Lincoln Memorial looking towards the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Plans to overhaul neglected sites on Washington's National Mall with lakeside gardens, grassy amphitheaters and restaurants with views of the nation's memorials are getting a boost from a German carmaker. Volkswagen of America announced a $10 million gift Thursday to the nonprofit Trust for the National Mall to jumpstart fundraising for the park. It's the largest private gift to date to restore the most-visited national park. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

WASHINGTON — Organizers of the annual National Memorial Day Parade alongside the National Mall in Washington say they are short of sponsors for this year's event, and federal budget cuts are dimming participation from many in the military. But they say the May 27 celebration will still go forward.

A spokesman for the American Veterans Center, the parade organizer, said several Defense contractors that were top sponsors in previous years have pulled out or reduced their contributions, citing the federal budget cuts known as sequestration.

“A majority are Defense contractors,” said group spokesman Garrett Marquis. “They say they can't do it this year because their funding has been cut back by the Defense Department.”

Defense, which is absorbing half the $85 billion in cuts across the government this fiscal year, has scaled back many contracts.

But a spokesman for Boeing, one of the parade's key sponsors in the past three years, said sequestration wasn't responsible for the decision to pull funding.

“We decided not to renew our sponsorship,” said Dan Beck, spokesman for the Chicago-based firm. “We continually evaluate our sponsorship commitments around the world.”

Beck said Boeing decided to shift funds to other causes, but he would not elaborate. He declined to say how much Boeing contributed to the parade in the past.

The other sponsor that Marquis identified as pulling its commitment is the Department of Defense 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee, a three-year project that recognizes the service of Korean War veterans. He declined to name other donors that have pulled funding.

Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), a major Defense contractor based in Tysons Corner, Va., that has contributed to the parade in the past, did not return calls seeking comment.

The American Veterans Center has raised a little more than half of the $400,000 it needs for the parade this year, Marquis said. An unexpected donation last week from the Chamber of Commerce in Myrtle Beach, S.C., will allow the event to be broadcast on military TV stations, Marquis said.

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