When we moved into our home 22 years ago, we gained a front row seat on our new home town’s Memorial Day parade. The parade marched past the end of our block on its way to the nearby cemetery.
We developed our routines, one of which was Amigo riding his recumbent three wheeler to the end of the block and sitting in its comfortable seat, standing only when the honor guards walked by.
There were special years, like the time that the only teenagers awake at 10:00 AM were La Petite and her friends in the band. Then there was the year that La Petite slept in and her friends all looked over at us, wondering where she was. We got small finger waves from a piccolo player, among others. I hope the director didn’t notice!
Speaking of band, there was the year that Amigo cheered as his high school band marched by, catching the attention of the director, who was also his Music Appreciation teacher. She ran over to the side of the road and hugged him!
The same director and Amigo’s high school band missed the local Memorial Day parade in favor of marching in Washington, D.C. one year. The high school sent their orchestra instead – “marching” on the flatbed trailer of a semi-truck.
One year I volunteered to shuttle some of the local Democrats from the end of the parade (not far from our home) back to their cars at the beginning. I ended up “marching” along with the unit for the last bit, and then gave the college Democrats a ride back – to my own college alma mater.
There were somber moments, too. Last year the fire department had a huge unit marching in their dress uniforms, looking straight ahead, giving tribute to one of their own who had been shot in the line of duty only two weeks earlier. Neighboring departments worked shifts so that any firefighter who wanted to march could do so. The department got a standing ovation along the entire parade route from start to finish.
And that’s what Memorial Day is all about: the bands, the floats, the people, all playing and marching and walking in honor of those who gave their lives, the ultimate sacrifice. Covid19 took that event off the calendar this year; next year, we’ll appreciate it even more.