This morning I went to the Memorial Day parade in Holliston, MA; a little town not too far from Boston. Me and the girls, we parked the car at St. Mary's, arriving early enough to get a shady seat on the bench in front of Fisk's Variety Store. My wife's family and friends are usually there, and the kids like the flags and the small town excitement.
In the distance we could hear the High School band and the crackle of police walkie-talkies. The excitement grew as the parade neared our vantage point across from the Superette. With blue lights flashing, Charlotte's uncle John rounded the corner onto Route 16 in his patrol car, clad in his Ray-Ban's and a proud smile, he blipped the siren signaling the last few pedestrians to get to the sidewalk. Behind him the rumble of a 30's something-or-other roadster, and the clickty-clack of a Ford Model-T succumbed to the applause of those of us lining the sidewalk. A round of cheers for the WWII vets, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and those in the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The wizened faces of historical figures, once young and vibrant, road by in military pride. Before us, a chapter in the history of the US faded into the distance as the Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and Brownies rounded the corner.
For a few moments, I drifted off to my childhood, remembering the white Chevy Biscayne convertible carrying the WWI vets, my dad, a proud WWII and Korean War vet with two purple hearts paraded past his family.
My thoughts quickly returned to reality when I heard the echo of 7 rifles, and then another. It was a very emotional moment for me as I heard the last blast of a 21 gun salute. I thought of all those the had once lay dying on the battle field so that I could walk down Route 16, free. I wondered how many cried out to God? How many were going to be in Heaven with me?
I remember my father's wake like it was yesterday. There lay the body of a man who spent most of his life as a disabled vet. He nearly died, not once, but twice for his country. Sargent Rice from the DAV came that day, to honor my dad. I can hear her voice, "Sargent Johndrow, I salute you." And they closed the casket forever.
Whatever you think of this country, I promise you, there are those that have given their lives so that you can read this blog. Honor them today by giving thanks for your freedom if you have it.