Monday, May 28, 2007


At ten minutes to ten, you look outside and wonder if anyone is going to show up to watch the parade. Fifteen minutes later, the streets are lined with people: families with small children and dogs on leashes, old people in comfortable lawn chairs, teenagers with phones glued to their ears. A gang of middle-school boys tosses a football in the street, moving aside for the few cars that are still coming through.

Shortly after ten, you hear the siren that marks the approach of the parade. Bookended by squad cars, the parade winds its way around ten city blocks. Four bands - two from the middle schools and two from the high schools, half a dozen or so American Legion and VFW color guards, a group of politicians, a troop of Girl Scouts, two of the city's eight fire trucks, a city bus transporting half a dozen vets too old or infirm to walk the route, and a crazy older couple on a restored 1951 John Deere tractor make up the bulk of the parade. It doesn't seem like much, hardly enough to bother watching, much less organizing.

Yet every single color guard receives a standing ovation and sustained applause from the watching crowd. For a short time, at least, the politics of war are forgotten as we remember and honor the sacrifices of those who gave their lives to protect the freedoms we enjoy.

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

- Moina Michael

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