One Day in America
A touch of Americana was on display Sunday as the Woodsboro Memorial Day Parade kicked off. Residents have enjoyed this event for many years.
The Glen W. Eyler Post 282, The American Legion, sponsors this celebration of all that is good about the United States of America – its people, its industry, its talent and, most assuredly, the men and women of our armed forces who have fallen in battle.
The parade always begins at 1:30, after Sunday worship, a rite that is sacrosanct in the heartland of America. Maryland may be one of the most liberal states in the Union, but Frederick County is energized by its centers of “old fashioned patriotism” – to the dismay of “some.”
The parade traditionally concludes with the formal remembrance at the post home overlooking main street, a huge American flag dominating the skyline. There are songs, readings, presentations, and a keynote speaker. The program is united in its shameless praise of America and her defenders.
It is too bad that Frederick doesn’t do parades any more. Frederick did have its annual Memorial Day remembrance Monday at Mount Olivet Cemetery, surrounding the grave of Francis Scott Key and honoring the fallen. It is sponsored by Francis Scott Key Post 11 of the American Legion. Post 11 also fills Memorial Grounds Park at West Second and North Bentz streets to honor all veterans each Nov. 11.
Frederick also has its Kris Kringle Procession and the Mountain City Elks Lodge has its annual organizational parade in August along West All Saints Street.
Realistically speaking, parades take large numbers of volunteers and endless coordination to minimize disruption of traffic. Some merchants on North Market Street object to parades just as they did the former “Market Street Mile” race, the Frederick Marathon, the Half-Marathon, and even the In The Street celebration each October.
Woodsboro Legionnaires and the town keep these naysayers under wraps as does the City of Brunswick. This Potomac River town is on the national map when it conducts its annual Veterans Day Parade. It is a bonafide Department of Defense Veterans Day event and features military musical units from Washington. It continues to attract units from the four-state region.
It is worthy of note that several times the Marine Corps has brought its Drum and Bugle Corps to Fort Detrick and Frederick to conduct a traditional Tattoo. It’s great, but it isn’t a parade.
Memorial Day is a uniquely American event once known as Decoration Day. It origins are traced to May 1865, a few weeks after the guns were silenced in the War Between the States. Observances were held at several sites in the aftermath of the war, most notably in a small town in Mississippi. The ladies honored the fallen by placing flowers on the graves of both Yankee and Confederate soldiers.
It is worth observing that the Woodsboro parade appropriately forms on the south end of town at Mount Hope Cemetery. Units squeeze into their positions in line while participants warm up instruments, adjust their uniforms, practice their routines, and generally socialize amid the sea of markers.
I am partial to riding in the Woodsboro parade, where it was dangerously hot Sunday. The Frederick and Carroll County Voiture (chapter) of the Society of the 40 and 8 began taking part in the Woodsboro parade in 2002.
Our combat boots were worn out long ago and we have become too old and feeble to march. However, we have a “Locomotive,” a 1950 GMC Chassis built as a locomotive by the B&O Railroad’s Claremore, Maryland shop in 1951 for the Baltimore Voiture. We got it as a free gift, but had to tow the rusting hulk to Frederick in 1998 and figure out how we could get it going.
Former Frederick Mayor Jim Grimes towed it several times for us gratis as we got it sandblasted, painted, upholstered and ultimately pieced together using the original engine and components. It seats a driver and assistant up front and room for a load of Voyageurs (we are called) to work the crowd. It was wonderful.
The Post 282 Color Guard led off the parade with Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins marching in the celebrity spot behind them. We were near the front, two units behind the Yellow Springs Community Band. We tried with limited success not to interfere with their rendition of “You’re a Grand Old Flag” by blowing our horns or ringing the 12-inch brass bell on top. We were awash in national colors and the POW/MIA flag. We loved the crowd’s response.
We took the locomotive to Westminster Monday morning for its parade and again many thousands lined the streets. A huge parade.
The weekend was a great day in America! Let’s keep it this way.