Ba-ba-ba-ba-bum – the drums, the flutes; a symphonic cacophony of sounds. A parade brings back so many fond memories. What a terrific way to start our warm season off and, more importantly, honor our deceased war heroes.
I highly recommend bringing a chair. Trust me on this one; the curb is rather uncomfortable. But even so, the price is right for an afternoon of family fun entertainment. My husband, a Vietnam veteran, always takes time to reflect and relax while enjoying the parade festivities.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II – a glorious victory for the brave Allied powers defending freedom and democracy against the tyrannical Axis powers. My father served in the 101st Airborne and he felt so fortunate to make it out alive. Once I asked why he wanted to be a paratrooper and he said because the pay was considerably more than other divisions.
Nicknamed the Screaming Eagles, they were considered an elite group due to the hazardous nature of their missions. They jumped behind enemy lines on D-Day, fought on Hell’s Highway during Operation Market Garden and were surrounded by Nazis in the frigid Battle of the Bulge without supplies.
My father rarely spoke about the war unless asked a direct question. He suffered nightmares because of the horrors of active combat he experienced. Having a deep faith in God and his country, he would drape the largest flag in the area over our house every patriotic holiday.
My mother mentioned that my father would take all five of his daughters to the parades when we were very young. He would bring us by himself, so my mother could take a break. His combat training prepared him to have a lot of patience to live under the same roof with six females.
My father joined the VFW post in Kenmore so he could take an active role. I cannot remember him ever missing a parade, from the frigid November Veterans Day marches to the scorching Fourth of July celebrations. He truly enjoyed seeing his six grandsons at the parades and their excitement when they recognized him.
This was his way of remembering and honoring his fellow military service men and women for all their sacrifices for their country. In his later years, he became commander of his post so he would have a permanent seat on the parade’s grandstand. I found his need to give back to the community so admirable because he was wounded during battle.
The bullet tore his upper thigh muscles, which required surgery. My father received three Purple Hearts for his valor. He never complained and when asked if it hurt, would only say, “sometimes with the changes in the weather.” I believe he felt it was a reminder of how he was one of the fortunate ones to come home.
When Dad passed away, I called the VFW post to see if he could have military honors. It was Labor Day weekend and I was told no one was available. Two hours later, someone called back saying he had recruited the Brown Rangers to take care of the formalities. Maybe a VFW post member remembered my father being a past commander and reminded others how he never missed a parade!
Parades pull a community together and instill a sense of pride and patriotism. The expensive amusement parks cannot offer this. So this Memorial Day weekend, find a parade and celebrate the brave U.S. service men and women for defending our freedom.