Monday, May 30, 2011

Parade Time

Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

Like many others, I have long treated Memorial Day as one of those holidays where I sit back, relax and do whatever. A few years ago, before Nathaniel was born, I got off my duff and witnessed a ceremony in our small town to honor our nation's veterans. I was touched by it all – the solemness of the occasion and the sincere gratitude that those in attendance showed to our military, past and present. I stood next to an elderly gentleman decked out in his World War II uniform, standing stiffly at attention despite an unrelenting sun.

I was really glad I went.

So, this year, I gathered up Nathaniel and Isaiah and wheeled them downtown to see the parade. I had read in the local paper that it would kick off at 9:30, so I hustled on down, only to find out that the parade wouldn't reach the downtown for a while. No problem: A change in plans had us at the bagel shop, where Nathaniel got a blueberry bagel with cream cheese, and I a works with lox spread. And an orange juice. Yum. We picked a spot along the street where the sidewalk runs above the street, and there's a wall that you can sit on and dangle your feet toward the street below. Nathaniel, ever the friendly sort, found another boy, a 3-year-old named Liam, to run around with, which allowed me to down my bagel and play with Isaiah. All was going fine, although the parade took longer to make its way to our area than I imagined, and Nathaniel, bathed in sweat, was on the cusp of being played out. Thankfully, just as he was fidgeting madly in my lap, a police cruiser came by, blue lights flashing, and signaling the start of the parade.

This parade is a short one, about 20 minutes long, and is really like a dress rehearsal for the main event a month later, the famed Fourth of July parade. Still, it was fun – music from the local high school marching band and a team of colonial re-enactors, and blasts from a cannon and a group of musket-wielding gentleman in old time getup. You could hear the cannon blasts from several blocks away. As it approached, I could see a blend of fascination and terror in Nathaniel's eyes. I knew the blast would be loud, and so I told Nathaniel to put his hands over his ears, as I held my hands over Isaiah's. BOOM! The cannon blasted right in front of us, and Nathaniel's eyes widened into beach balls. Then he scrunched up his face and began crying.

He wanted to go home. I thought about it for a second and decided we'd stay, not because I wanted to subject him to more noise, but because I figured he'd enjoy the others parts of the parade. And he did. And when the muskets came round, three times in all, I held Isaiah and Nathaniel hard against my chest, with my hands clasped over each's right ears. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! We survived the blasts and enjoyed the parade.

All in all, I think the boys had a good time. And I feel good that I did something to pay tribute to our men and women in uniform. God bless them for their service.

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