Sunday, May 24, 2020

It's Parades and Picnics, Too

I remember marching in a Memorial Day parade in 1966. I was a Cub Scout. They probably started with a band and fire truck. There would have be antique cars decorated with bunting. Convertibles with the Gold Star Mothers riding along. The VFW would march with rifles. There was a small group of WWI vets that always marched together. Then the Boy Scouts and Cubs. The Girl Scouts and Brownies.

And if you weren't marching, you were on the curb or sidewalk watching. The whole procession came out of the high school parking lot and went down the main street until it turned left just before the river. The parade turned there because that took you to the main cemetery. The podium was set up and the various speakers took their turns before the veteran's graves. You knew which ones were the veterans because the stones were decorated with a flag.

I don't remember anything that was said. Just that it was solemn. I went looking. You can watch 5000 home movies of 1950s and 1960s Memorial Day Parades if you are so inclined. I picked one. Not because it seemed special, but because it seemed typical. This is what towns big and small used to do on Memorial Day.

It's a minute long. The video quality is poor. There is no sound. It looks like America.

Our dads and uncles were the guys that fought in WWII. Our grandfathers in WWI. They knew the guys with the flags on their headstones from high school and church. America was what all these men had fought for and Memorial Day was for the ones that hadn't made it home.

And there were picnics. Burgers and dogs, baked beans and chips, cold soda and beer. The smell of charcoal. Memorial Day was a celebration, too. A time to remember back at what it cost and a time to appreciate the day, the freedom, the life and the people we share it with.

Saving Private Ryan is a great movie. It would be a good movie without this scene, but this scene is what elevates it to greatness. It is the question that we should all ask ourselves. Is the life we are living worth the cost that was paid? I, too, hope that in their eyes it is.


Divemedic said...

I have friends and acquaintances who didn't come home. Some of them I served with, some I only knew before, and others died after they came home from wounds they received while in the service.
I do not think that they died so that some communist politician could tell me when I am allowed to leave my house or go to work. Let's remember that, and make sure that the sacrifice they made was worth it.

libertyman said...

That is a tough scene for me to watch, especially having stood in that exact spot where it was filmed. Every American should go to Normandy and see first hand what we were up against, and to pause and reflect on the sacrifices made by so many. Very moving.

Borepatch said...

Damnitall, I was going to post that scene tomorrow!


ASM826 said...

Edit the post and add your thoughts.

Murphy(AZ) said...

The MOST powerful scene from a VERY powerful movie.

Those of us today who are keeping their social distance, those of us who are out at the lakes and rivers enjoying the chance to get out into the fresh air and sunshine, remember the cost for what we have and what we do these days.

If we did not pay the price, remember, someone did. God blessed all of us with them. God bless their families and the friends who remember.

Tom Murin said...

My town, Califon, NJ, has an old-time parade like this one. Unfortunately, it was canceled this year due to COVID-19. I marched in the parade with the cub scouts a couple of times, and my kids' have been participated in numerous roles.

The parade ends at the town park. There's some music from a high school band, and a speech is given by a veteran. Well, last year I was that veteran. I didn't want to do it and turned them down originally, but they really needed someone - so I relented. It turned out well and I am glad that I did it. My main theme was service - someone has to do it. Answer the call. That's America to me. Not the riots and looting that are happening this week after Memorial Day.