Everybody loves a parade. Especially me. But until now I never got to walk in one. I’ve always been a spectator. Until today, that is.
Today, I walked with my son, Sam, and his Little League team in Camden’s Memorial Day Parade.
What makes this parade so wonderful is that the spectators sitting in their canvas folding chairs and holding small American flags, know the people marching by and vice versa. They yell hi and wave their hands and their flags and we wave back. We walked by my friend Dan and his mother, Gigie; my friend Jackie who was selling raffle tickets in front of the local market; Scott sitting in front of his real estate office; and Jude who rushed out to give her son a sip of water as we passed. In front of us, the high school band played but all we heard was the staccato beat of the drums. Behind were antique cars, local clubs, the humane society and the Lincolnville Band playing in the back of their huge tractor-trailer.
Today, the sun came out after 10 days of rain. The crowds lining the street and those of us marching the two miles from start to finish felt happy just because at long last we could see blue sky.
Before moving to Camden, my experience with Memorial Day was on the island of North Haven, just off the coast from here. There a town official each year reads off all the names of local sons and daughters who died in the service of their county, going all the way back to the American Revolution. Then some one plays Taps and memorial wreaths are dropped off the ferry landing to float out to sea.
Camden is too big to read off the names of all the veterans. Instead, the parade stops at each memorial on the way through town. And when we reach the main cemetery, the high school band plays the Star Spangled Banner and the Naval Hymn and a lone trumpeter plays Taps. A minister recited a blessing; and a veteran read touching lyrics from a country western song about “our boys in blue.”
Memorial Day is when we take time to honor those who gave their lives for our country. But the Memorial Day Parade also celebrates community and the people who hold it together.