The Memorial Day Parade

Having grown up in a bedroom community, I find myself enjoying the trappings of small town life. That is, if anyone considered Fairfield a small town considering our population is about 57,000.

One of the town traditions is the Memorial Day parade, a nearly two hour extravaganza that involves two-thirds of the town coming out to watch the other one-third march. Those of us watching, line the streets and cheer the veterans, some dating back to World War II (I still remember when we had some WW I vets in the parade). Since the sidewalks swell early and quickly, we have joined the tradition of staking out space the day before. Now some get carried away and leave their chairs or blankets or tarps in place as early as Saturday but we usually join in the fun around Sunday dinner time. And for the last decade or so we’ve staked out the same space towards the end of the route. We have made this our place because in the early years, one or both kids would march and we could be near the end of the route to make collecting them easier.

Kate would march with the girl scouts and Robbie marched with the scouts or Little League or once, playing Trumpet in the middle school band. The one year I coached Little League, I led my team on the route, in the rain. The kids were eager to take turns carrying our team banner and thrilled to be wet. I was less enchanted.

These days, neither kid marches but we head out anyway. Our first stop is normally one of the churches near our perch, which has an annual fund raising pancake breakfast. We see people we know, such as former DC colleague Brian Augustyn, serving up pancakes and sausages and have a nice time. Settled back in our chairs, we watch the parade, now shouting and waving at the people we know doing the marching.

As I watched today – and it was sunny, warm and lovely – I was struck at the notion that this is another physical reminder of time’s passage. I looked at the daisies and brownies and boy scouts and little leaguers and the parents trailing behind them and knew so very few. They’re another generation of young adults, now beginning their own families while our family is at that mature stage, the one before it separates into component parts. Kate was in Washington and missed it, but Robbie joined us although he preferred roller blading up and down the route seeking friends.

It was a little sappy, it was certainly sloppy with huge gaps between clusters of marchers, and it was fun seeing the shriners in their little cars, and it was nice to see the veterans, as well as those who serve and protect the town I call home. I’m pleased to see so many come out to march and so many more to come and watch, another reminder of why I like living here.

One comment

  • For the past few years, Nomi and I have gone to the town’s Memorial Day program at the World War memorial, which is right next to Town Hall. It attracts mostly veterans and their families, maybe a hundred people or so. I wish it would get more.

    Our town’s big patriotic parade is held on the Sunday after Flag Day. I actually get to march as one of the Library Trustees.