Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Jackson's first Memorial Day

Michelle and I took Jackson down to the center of town to see Sterling's Memorial Day parade. Like most Americans, we have veterans on both sides of the family, and want to get Jackson in the habit of participating in these sorts of events as a way to link him to his heritage. We also don't want him to grow up thinking of holidays like this one as just another day off.

Not that we spent all weekend listening to the 1812 Overture, reciting the Gettysburg Address and watching old war documentaries (although that sounds like it would have been a fun weekend, now that I think about it), but we figured we can at least spend a couple of hours with the other citizens of our new hometown to honor our veterans.

I expect that Jackson will probably enjoy it a little more as he gets older. He spent much of the time whining because the 11:00 a.m. parade was during his nap time, he's cutting a molar and his mouth hurts, and he hates wearing a sun hat (the picture below is what happens when mom and dad give in and slather his head with sunscreen).

But he did find the flags fascinating, and immediately got the hang of waving them. I suppose that's obvious--I'm not sure what else you'd do with a flag--but in any event, he figured it out right away. He also decided the big red knob at the top of the flagpole was a great device to chew on and massage his sore gums. I imagine that's probably prohibited in the flag code somewhere, but at least we weren't in a place where he would get fined for it.

Jackson perked up when the parade passed. It was a classic small-town parade, with a police honor guard, veterans from the American Legion post, a couple of classic cars, firefighters, scouts of all ages and sizes, and a big red fire truck. There was also a marching band which looked like it had been hired for the occasion (the Al Someone-or-Another Band, I don't remember the name, although it was printed on the bass drum).

Michelle and I went to Lancaster's ceremonies and parade last year and while I suppose it's unfair to compare one town's celebration with another, I appreciated Lancaster's a little more. Instead of a hired band they had the high school band (of course, Sterling is part of a regional school system, so the Wachusett band may have been playing in another town), and they had a lot more "marchers" including all of the Little League teams, 4-H clubs, etc. They even had a kids club whose purpose was to put flowers and flags on the graves of veterans.

But Sterling is our hometown now, and the idea isn't to find the most entertaining ceremony or parade, it's to gather with our fellow townspeople to honor the service of those who gave their lives for our country. At least that's what we hope to teach Jackson.
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