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What happened to Veterans Day parades?

Posted: November 8, 2017 - 2:17am
Ray Willis
Ray Willis

I received an email from one of the writers of a nearby daily newspaper a couple of days ago, inquiring as to whether our North Augusta American Legion Post 71 would be having a parade on the 10th.

We would not be, although we would be conducting a ceremony at a local park, and a Navy captain would be our guest speaker.

Two of the local high school bands would be performing.

I enjoy a parade, especially when it comes to donning my old Coast Guard uniform and actually marching in it.

What happened to those old parades we used to have on Memorial Day and Veterans Day?

When I was a pre-teen my parents would always take us to parades.

I loved them.

Our church sat prominently on Main Street, in the heart of town. We had massive stone steps where we'd sit so as not to miss a moment of the parade.

No matter how large or small the town or city, each had a veterans parade.

World War II and the Korean War had recently been fought. Patriotism and appreciation for veterans, dead or living, was still prevalent.

Many of those veterans marched proudly in their uniforms themselves.

And there was always plenty of music. One could hear a marching band or fife and drum corps nearing the center before finally passing right in front of us.

When the music from that band faded away, one's ear would pick up the sound of the next band.

Most of the fraternal organizations had their own bands. The veterans organizations and most of the high schools had theirs band or fife and drum corps.

Hearing that music excited me so.

Interest in parades honoring veterans has declined.

It seems veterans are older now, of course, and would rather be celebrated or honored from atop a float or in some special motor vehicle than actually marching themselves.

In Green Valley, Arizona, I had a few occasions to march in large parades in another American Legion post.

I'll never forget the day our post marched with a post comprised of Apaches, on a hot day, when most of the old codgers in the our post petered out and had to seek a cool place and a cold drink.

My old Coast Guard buddy and fellow legionnaire, Jodie Galloway, and I donned our Coast Guard uniforms to march in the last Memorial Day parade in Aiken. What an honor!

Now, in my old age, I have to content myself with helping out with our ceremonial corps, paying our last respects to one of our at a burial service.

It is comforting to be a part of such a wonderful and working post such as my present Post 71, in North Augusta.

If I were to die today, it is so comforting to know the men who would be part of my burial ceremony.

Honor those vets, especially the ones who gave their lives in battle.

 

The author is public affairs officer for American Legion Post 71 in North Augusta.

 

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