It’s a great day for a parade here in Parkman. The sun shines in a near cloudless sky of azure, as the crowds begin to form. I hadn’t really planned on going, but after walking to the Post Office, I could sense the tension in the air. This was “The” Parkman Parade of the year.
The crowd was in a good mood and well-behaved. This is pick-up truck country, pickups with horse trailers or farm implants tagging behind. There was a bit of a conflict inside me with the large numbers of Amish present. I don’t know, but somehow, if you don’t believe in war and don’t believe in violence, showing up at a Memorial Day Parade seems a bit gauche. The idea of Memorial Day is a good one, but its application needs a bit of work. You see, the Amish were there to show their patriotism. While it’s good being different in America, it’s dangerous being too different.
Or maybe, they just came to see the show. Literally, tens and tens of Parkmanites, crowded the street to see those not at work, parade through the street. The Parade came in gusto marching down the hill flags waving, drums thundering, so reminiscent of real war drums. The veterans led the show, bearing flags and each their own age representation. The Korean Vets fading away, replaced by Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Beirut, Baghdad, Afghanistan and on and on.
After the Vets came the Boy Scouts, men marching in uniform followed by boys in uniform, marching holding flags. It seems we’re off the track, if our goal on Memorial Day is to remember the service of veterans, we should stop making them. I mean, the purpose of the WPA was to end the Depression, not glorify it.
Behind the boy droids was the local High school marching band, playing enough to recognize of a patriotic tune. There’s more to music than hitting all the right notes, I suppose. They were Americana, middle-class kids in a small town, high school marching band. To me…that’s more American than fighter planes or precision marching. That’s something worth fighting about, a decent life for our kids, that’s something worth dying for.
The band stopped in front of me and turned to face the flagpole, across from the Parkman Post Office and media center. The band broke into The National Anthem, and I removed my hat, more out of politeness, than any sense of Neo-patriotism. By through broad stripes and bright stars, I was the only one removing my cap, making me a bit self-conscious. The band played and the Boy Scouts fumbled, (Note for next year: teach Boy Scouts how to attach flag) slowly, old glory was raised on her standard, as a big John Deere tractor with chemical sprayer in tow, waited patiently, at the intersection of Patriotism St. and Noxious Chemical Blvd.
It’s the same road the fracking trucks, marked (brine) go down and they are rolling even today. Here’s what I’ve learned about fracking, a man comes to your house with a briefcase. He’s tells you how much money they will give you to sign today. If you’re unsure, depending on circumstances, they might offer you more money. If you still say no, they go down the road and offer that money to one of your neighbors. If the water ends up ruined, it’s ruined either way. Pitting American against American, somebody gets out, somebody don’t.
Then came the Fire Trucks of the Parkman Volunteer Fire Department, all lime yellow with chrome and big numbers on them. They do great work, let’s double their budget and cut the military budget. Let’s double the budget for band instruments and for art supplies. Let’s build better people and perhaps many of our problems, might go away. Let’s start by teaching them to sing and play instruments, never heard of a fella going on a killing spree, when he had something better to do.
The Boy Scout’s recessed back into the formation, a whistle blew and the parade continued to the end of the block at the cemetery. We had seen the peak and now, it was all over for another year. What sort of message was this? As the wars and occupations continue unabated, what does this holiday even mean? We are within a few days of the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand and the beginning of the War to End All Wars. “I had no reason to be over optimistic, but somehow when you smiled I could brave bad weather.” ~ Pete Townsend
“We are not youth any longer. We don’t want to take the world by storm. We are fleeing. We fly from ourselves. From our life. We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces.” ~ Erich Maria Remarque – All Quiet on the Western Front