Last year, The Memorial Day Parade and Duck Races were just not the same for any of us. We were all still mourning my mom and despite how many people shared their love for her with us, it was a bittersweet day.
My dad loves driving the duck in his convertible during the Memorial Day Parade. It was his “job” for years! This year, with him in the hospital, he passed the job along to DJ. When my boys were little, I marched with them along with the duck and helped toss candy to the crowds of people along the parade route. As they got older, I marched with my school. Last year and this year, I was needed to help out with tickets and prizes for the race so I skipped the parade and went to the brook instead and helped with all of the set up.
I know that my dad was quite upset not being there at the races today. He was looking forward to seeing mom’s bench there. If he had been there, he would have seen it used by so many families who were sitting and enjoying the races. It was such a sweet sight. I know how happy my mom would have been knowing how much fun people were having sitting along side the brook on this beautiful day on a bench that honored her. It was really a beautiful thing to see.
Although, we all know the true meaning behind Memorial Day and we realize that the parade is in honor of all of those who have lost their lives serving our country, it has turned into a huge community event. Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, several of the elementary schools, civic organizations all march along with veterans and their families. Many years ago, when the duck races first began in our town, there was some disagreement with holding them on Memorial Day. Many thought it was too somber of a day to do it. It was argued that getting the community together for this huge event, actually brought out more people to the ceremonies. I don’t remember how it happened, but somehow it has all turned out okay and now, at the conclusion of the Memorial Day ceremony at town hall, the crowds descend upon the brook in town and the duck races begin. It does seem odd to have barbecues and parties or to go away for the long weekend when the original idea behind the day was to commemorate such a somber event. Perhaps for those of us who have not experienced the loss of a veteran, we should take a moment to remember all of those who have died serving our country and use the time to appreciate our families, friends and how we have gotten to where we are in our lives.