To the Editor,
Now, I don’t want to go all Norman Rockwell on you but picture this: May, late 1940s, Nyack Post Office step, a tow-headed little kid… short pants… small American flag in hand. He, is me, watching the Annual Memorial Day Parade heading south down Broadway. The reason I’m sitting on the Post Office steps is so I can see over the crowd, which is two or three deep.
Then the parade takes a left down Hudson Street toward the park. Leading the parade were the young World War II veterans looking all strac in their crisp uniforms, followed by the World War I veterans — a little older and a little paunchy and out of step, then bringing up the rear were the Spanish-American War veterans, some riding in convertibles. To me that is, they were the old guys! Funny how your perspective changes. Today I am probably older than some of them!
Once at the park, we would gather around the Memorial for the reading of the names. That would be followed by a rifle salute and of course Taps. Kids still scramble for the empty shell casings. I also vaguely remember a large wooden sign which had the names of all those from Nyack who served and for those who didn’t return, a star was added.
Maybe it was my child’s mind but it seemed the Village of Nyack was truly in support of their troops and veterans, and went out of their way to show that. Today I’m afraid that wouldn’t happen. The American Legion, VFW and other groups have tried to keep the parade alive, but it seems each year the crowds grow fewer. To paraphrase Carl Sandburg: what would it be like if they gave a parade and nobody came?
Back in 2014 Senator Charles Schumer put forth the idea of a Parade down the Canyon of Heroes in New York. Recently, President Trump suggested it, however, the rancor in this country today has gotten so bad, that two Parties having the same idea almost guarantees it won’t work!
But folks, It’s not about them. They are the ones that start the wars! It’s about the millions of young Americans whose lives were forever changed, who are invisible to the general public.
Understand, even those who don’t care for the military need these troops — many of whom are not re-enlisting. 2000 pilots retired. They’re just burnt out from too many missions. Why bother if nobody’s paying attention anyway? They can make better money flying for JetBlue, with nobody shooting at them.
Well, maybe a parade wouldn’t hurt — it would be a start.