I love a parade…

July 3, 2019

From the Jack’s Winning Words blog today comes this – “A love for tradition has never weakened a nation; indeed it has strengthened nations in their hour of peril.”  (Churchill)

Jack went on to write – There are 10 National Holidays, but 4 stand out in my mind as days that especially define America: Independence Day, Veterans’ Day, Thanksgiving Day, Memorial Day.  The others are significant, too, but think today about these 4, particularly the 4th of July, a day to celebrate the history of a great nation, not perfect, but in the process.  😉  Jack

Parades are a way to pause and celebrate holidays in your hometown and in our p5nation. I organize the 4th of July Parade in my home town of Milford, Michigan. I march, as a veteran, in the Memorial Day parade and I work as a volunteer in the Christmas Parade, which always takes place Thanksgiving weekend. We don’t have a parade for Veteran’s Day.  We also have parades for the start of Little League Baseball, and the local high school homecoming. Obviously, we love traditions in Milford.

Huron Valley Middle School BandThe parades that we have in Milford mean that Main Street is shut down for s few hours and a crowd gathers to watch. The biggest parade, by far is our Memorial Day parade, which draws a crowd of several thousand to watch and which has almost 1,000 vets marching.  The Christmas Parade features the arrival of Santa Claus to Milford for the Christmas Season. The Independence Day parade usually draws a big crowd to watch, too.

Sadly, the Independence Day Parade on the 4th of July has been declining in both attendance and participation for the last few years. What used to be a parade with 70-80 participating groups is now down to about 50 groups marching or riding in the parade. The viewing audience is also down a bit. It seems that the same reasons thatHistorical Society marchers in 2017 parade are causing the decline in church attendance effects the parade on the 4th – people are just too busy with other things to do.

Of course, the summer months are vacation months, so many families are traveling while school is out. Still, the fact that fewer local businesses and groups participate is troubling. We used to have 6-7 Boy and Girl Scout troops and Brownies and Cub Packs, but now only get 1-2. We had participation by many of the local churches, but now again only get 1 or 2. Many of the local service organizations used to march, now we are lucky if any participate. The excuses are always the same – “We couldn’t get enough people to be in the parade.”

What we are really saying is that we are too busy, too distracted or overwhelmed by Bridge to Unity floatlife to pause and take a moment to just enjoy a shared celebration of thankfulness for things like the birth of our nation or those who served our country. We have become so wrapped up in ME that we don’t have time to celebrate the things that make us WE. I am not sure whether this is an indicator of, or a cause of, the state of unrest, distrust and hatefulness across the nation that seems to be reflected in nightly news stories.

Still, there is hope. We are carrying on the traditions, like the Independence Day parade, in the hope that providing events that allows us to celebrate the great WE20160704_114059 events of the past will once again remind us that we have more in common than the differences that want to drive us apart. We stop to celebrate the events that were put in motion by those seeking the freedoms of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That is still a work in process, as Jack said; but it is worth pausing and having a parade.

Maybe I’ll see you at the Milford Independence Day parade. The parade starts at 11 PM. I’ll be announcing the participants as they march by. Pause for a moment and celebrate WE.

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History lived through has more meaning…

January 15, 2018

I started thinking this morning that Martin Luther King Day for me and others that lived through the events that are being honored today somehow has more meaning than it MLK image over DOwntown MIlforddoes for those who have just read about it or watched old new footage of the events leading up to his death. Thus who were alive in those days remember the context of the events that we now memorialize. We remember the nightly news casts showing black protest marchers being attacked by police dogs and being dragged away by police officers.  We remember the speeches and the great gathering on the Washington Mall. The memory of Martin Luther King being shot  at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968,  also provokes memories of where we were and what we were doing five years earlier on the day that President Kennedy was shot, Friday, November 22, 1963, at 12:30 p.m. in Dallas, Texas. It also will be forever linked in our minds to the fatal shooting of Bobby Kennedy just two months later. Those were tumultuous times.

I’m not trying to say that those who weren’t there can’t have an appreciation of the events, the people involved and the consequences that followed; just that they will forever see it from a different perspective from those who lived through those times. It is less abstract and more personally meaningful, if one can recall how it affected us at the time.

History is also full of great breakthroughs and inventions that can leave one wondering how we ever got by before those things were available to us. Some diseases that were a fact of life back then are almost unheard of today and medical science has advanced so much that survival of what were life ending events is now possible. Even as we take these things for granted today, it is possible to look back and wonder about “the good old days.” How did we make it through those days?

Our nest big parade of the year in Milford is the Memorial Day parade in May. I have watched from my spot in the Viet Nam Veterans group of marchers as the ranks of WWII and the Korean War thinned over time. I have few, if any, personal memories of those days, although I was born during WWII. I do recall Harry Thurman and Dwight Eisenhower as the first two Presidents, of whom I was aware. I remember the glow of the short-lived Camelot Presidency of Kennedy and the turmoil of the Viet Nam War years. Those years provided the backdrop for the emergence of the civil rights movement and the leadership role that Dr. King played in that movement. They led up to my own time serving in Viet Nam at the turn of that decade.

So, Martin Luther King Day for me brings back a torrent of memories and images and emotions from my past. The day does not pass quietly by, unnoticed. It is not something abstract to me; it is something that I lived through and that has more meaning. I will go MLK Day parade in Mlfordto the MLK Day parade in Milford later today. It will be cold, as it always is this time of year. As I march, I will be reliving the memories of not just a day; but, of an era in our history at once brilliant in the ideals that it sparked and sad in the aftermath of the attempts to douse those hopes and dreams. Yes MLK’s dream is alive, but so too are the dreams of JFK and RFK and the many others of that era who envisioned a brighter future in America for all of its citizens.

Maybe I’ll see you there.


4th of July Parade Seeks Sponsors and Participants

June 14, 2017

I realize that many of the followers of this blog are not local to Milford, Michigan or even in this country; however, many are, so I wanted to publish this press release about our upcoming Independence Day Parade.

The Milford Historical Society is seeking both sponsors and participants for the 2017 Huron Valley Independence Day Parade (the 4th of July Parade) in downtown Milford. Norm Werner, co-chairman of the 4th of July Parade Committee said, “We want to do things to improve the parade and those things generally cost money. Just to do a flyover with a few planes can cost up to $1,000. Other things that could be added also come at a cost, also. We are seeking contributions from local businesses to help off-set those costs.”

The Independence Day Parade is organized and run by the Milford Historical Society, which is a 501c3 Non-Profit located in Milford. The Milford Historical Society runs the Milford Historical Museum in Milford and hosts several events during the year, including the Granny’s Attic Sale and the Milford Home tour, in addition to the parade.

Werner also said, “We are also looking for more participants this year and encourage local business and organizations to get into the parade lineup. Groups may march in the parade or have a vehicle or a float, or do all three. It’s a great way to promote your business or organization and to say thank you to the community for their support. We especially would like to get boy and girl scout troops back into the parade, as well as Brownies and Cub Scouts. Any bands or group from bands would also be great to have.” This year Kensington Metropark will have their team of Clydesdales pulling their big wagon in the parade.

The parade is held on the 4th of July, which hits on a Tuesday this year. The parade lineup starts at 10 AM and the parade steps off at 11 AM. The parade will line up again this year on N. Main/N. Milford Road north of Commerce and on Union and Hickory Streets. Once you have registered to be in the parade you will be assigned a parade slot and be given a map to your lineup location. “We hope to have more participation by military and patriotic groups this year”, Werner said. “We’re also in need of volunteers to help with running he parade by being street guards or directing the parade participants.”

For information about the parade and to download a Parade Participant application and parade rules, visit the web site Milfordhistory.org. Companies or organizations wishing to help sponsor the parade will also find a Parade Sponsor form at that web site or they may call Norm Werner at 248-763-2497 or Rich Harrison at 248-935-5556. Volunteers for the parade should call either Norm or Rich.