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Anne Wallingford, WordSmith


The Memorial Day Parade
May 2005

It was a beautiful spring morning, so I went out to watch the local Memorial Day parade. I'm glad I went as this was the first time in many, many years that I attended a live parade.

On the way there, the pole for my orange bike flag worked loose from its loop and started scraping the ground. No matter how I twisted and turned, I couldn't reach it. So I rode very slowly until I reached the parade route. When I reached the corner, I spotted a fellow in my age bracket standing there. He was wearing Army fatigues and holding a "Remember the POWs and MIAs" flag. I asked him if I held his flag, could he reposition my bike flag and catch it in the loop for me? Holding the POW/MIA flag sure brought back long gone memories.

We chitchatted for a few minutes, and then I rode down the block to look for a place to park. As I passed another vet selling American flags I bought one. He used his rubber bands to fasten the American flag to the pole for my bike flag. I felt very patriotic with my American flag waving in the breeze!

I found a driveway that had been closed off with yellow tape and parked myself off to the side of the driveway “just in case.”

The parade started with local city and emergency vehicles. The neighbor who lives across the street from me was wearing his Army fatigues and riding in one of the city trucks. He spotted me, waved, and called out "Hello, Anne!" Suddenly I was a celebrity to the youngsters sitting in the grass near me! It felt nice being recognized. Back when I was teaching, I couldn't go anywhere, even Disney World, without running into someone I knew! I'd missed that.

The marchers followed the city trucks. First came a group dressed in Revolutionary War costumes. Then came a War Between the States group. Next was a group of WWII veterans. Although there were only a dozen men in this last group, they were impressive. All wore American Legion "uniforms" and they marched in perfect precision despite their ages. Their pride in having served their country was obvious and moving. The crowd lining the route clapped for these vets, as they passed, and so did I. I'll even admit that seeing these proud veterans brought a tear to my eyes. I was really surprised when they passed me— two of the men waved as if they knew me. They looked vaguely familiar but I had no idea where I'd seen them. I felt honored.

Following the WWII vets were men and women from other combat periods: Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq, etc. Some of those veterans marched with family members. (Family members had been invited.) As one older fellow passed me pulling a wagon with (I'm assuming) his grandchildren, he stepped out of the line and came over towards me, leaving the wagon with the kids where it was. He reached out his hand to give me something and I just took it, reflexively. Turns out he'd handed me the kids' packages (unopened, thankfully!) of chewing gum. I had to laugh. Well, I was good for something, sitting there!

Next came the marching band—pretty good, too—followed by the motliest troop of Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts that I ever saw in a parade. The boys weren't marching. Instead, they were running back and forth, talking to each other and fooling around. I wanted to scold their troop leaders!

Two police cars with flashing lights brought up the rear of the parade and everyone headed towards the city park's Carillon bells. I joined the crowd—until it started to rain!

It wasn't a downpour, but it was definitely a heavy sprinkle. I wasn't worried about getting wet, but I was worried about the electric chair. So I waited for a break in the passers-by and turned around. Because the driveways were taped closed I couldn't get to the grocery store so I headed over a block to the library. When I got there I found out the library was closed because of elevator repairs. (Normally the library is open on Saturdays.) At least there was an awning for me to sit under. It wasn't long before a mother showed up with her boy. She explained to him that the library was closed and showed him the drop box for his book. The mother and I chatted for a few minutes and I asked her if she could hand me the umbrella from the back of my chair.  Since the rain was now just a drizzle, I headed home holding the umbrella. I learned something new—I could manage the umbrella while driving my chair.

By the time I got home, though, I was chilled to the bone, and damp. So I changed clothes, had a hot cup of tea, and went to bed where I could wrap up in blankets. I slept for two hours before getting up and writing down the day's adventure.

Copyright © 2005 Anne Wallingford All Rights Reserved

Thursday, August 25, 2005 (rev. 08/30/05)

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