Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Memorial Day in a Small Town

My apartment overlooks Main Street, so I am witness to every foul-mouthed skateboarder, bad muffler, and thudding stereo that passes by. Having an excellent view of parades does not make up for this, but it does help.

Since my prime piece of real estate is so perfectly situated for parades, I was disappointed to discover that we don’t get them all; we are so far out in the sticks that all the nearby towns have to pool their fire trucks to get enough to make a parade, so they rotate. We get Memorial Day and Fall Weekend, and those other people get the Fourth of July and Labor Day. This is unfair because our town is very clearly the most aesthetically pleasing of all the choices, but I shall generously set that grievance aside, especially since the siren in the town hall went off two minutes before the parade, and half the trucks rushed off to save people anyway. This greatly disturbed the horses, and consequently me, as I waited for one of them to buck his policeman right off onto the pavement.

But nothing so interesting happened.

Some people went by in old, well-polished cars, the mayor walked by waving, Scouts of various persuasions wandered by with their lines badly out of form, and some volunteer firefighters and nine or ten veterans marched past. The remaining emergency vehicles followed, and then the crowd wandered up to the cemetery to hear a speech and some blanks fired.

Assuming nobody was going to deliver the Gettysburg Address of our time, I did not bother to go, so I was still around to notice that fifteen minutes later the main intersection was still blocked off, so I kept an eye on it, and pretty soon the veterans came marching back through and lined up across Main Street. I had no idea why they were doing that until the firemen reappeared, still in formation, and turned the corner saluting. Then the policeman who had been holding up traffic got on his motorcycle and drove off, a couple of passersby continued on their way, the firemen went inside the firehouse, and the veterans dispersed.

So much for the speech at the other end of the street. This was a moment of perfect eloquence.

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