Each year Larchmont--a suburban community in Westchester, New York, measuring only one square mile--celebrates Memorial Day with a parade on the Thursday evening preceding the holiday weekend. This year was no different, however, the sudden onset of thunder about ten minutes before the scheduled start of the parade gave us pause...would the event be rained out?
We waited until the last possible moment to make the five-minute walk to Village Hall on Larchmont Avenue where we like to watch the parade. As we strode quickly along, people waiting out the storm in their cars began to pop out amidst a light rain.
Our conviction that Memorial Day 2010 would be celebrated was soon rewarded. The lead police car cleared the path for bagpipes playing "The Star Spangled Banner." A few cars with local officials waving enthusiastically followed. The officials were not perched on the backs of convertibles, beauty-pageant style; they were settled, more appropriately, inside sedans. The only convertible in the parade actually had a life-sized stuffed toy, a husky, riding in the back. (These unexpected moments are just one of many reasons I love this country.)
The true stars came next: Military service men and women, in New York City for Fleet Week, marched along with many units of our own local first responders. We observers clapped and cheered, and someone had provided the youngsters with small flags to wave as the groups passed by.
Though the crowd along the parade route was smaller than usual because of the weather, those of us who had come were soon joined by a huge crowd, those participating in the parade. Because the brownies and girl and boy scouts all march in the parade, most parents simply march along the edge of the route, near their children. The end destination is always the firehouse. The trucks, of course, are in the parade, so the truck bays are filled with firemen and volunteers handing out free hot dogs and lemonade to all comers.
By 7:30 the street was filled with village residents; children enjoying the Thursday night family outing, dogs tugging on leashes, and adults happily catching up with one another. The Memorial Day Parade soon took on the air of a neighborhood street fair, but all of us were out for one primary reason: To say thank you to all the men and women, serving now or in the past, working to keep this country safe.
This weekend we salute all of you.
We'll enjoy family time, and a little R and R, and we will all keep our hearts and eyes turned south, hoping that BP's current "Top Kill" effort succeeds in stopping the oil flow in what has been deemed the "greatest environmental disaster in U.S. history."
And after the weekend, we'll all get back to work at anything we can do to help keep this country great. From serving in the military to organizing a community gathering, from picking up litter to calling your Congressperson's office about something that matters to you, everything we do for the common good contributes to the strength of this country.
"We, the people" is a privilege; it's also a responsibility.
If you'd like to read more about the wonder of our country, visit my website: