At The Parade

As pitiful as this might sound, I had no one to do anything with on the 4th of July.

So I got up and got my ‘colors’ on and rode my bike down to the parade.  I pulled out of the alley behind my house and went around the corner…

When

I saw him.

He was cutting the grass.  It was hot.  He was so thin, with his shirt sticking to him.  I passed by close enough to see the sweat dripping off of him.  For some reason I thought of tears.  I don’t know him.  But we know each other.  I know he’s a veteran.  I know he has PTSD and carries burdens I will never know.  I slowed down as much as I could and still keep the bike up right.  I waited until he could sense me and he looked up.  I yelled “Happy fourth!” to him, smiled, and waited for him to smile back.  He did.   I was slowly rolling away and yelled ‘thank you’ over the lawn mower’s roar.   He smiled again.  He always did.  His house is often times closed up for days, and what seems like weeks, at a time.  He is often not around for me to see.  But when we see each other, we smile and wave.  I don’t know why, but that makes me feel good.

I rode my bike to the parade.  I stood in the sun for about forty minutes waiting for the parade to start.  I watched as people began to crowd into the space in front of me, slowly pushing me backwards.  It was okay.  I purposely had stayed back some because I had my bike and didn’t want to be inconsiderate.  And I knew kids would be coming up after me.  Kids need to see the parade.  The parade started.

And

I saw him.

He was in his late sixties, maybe even his seventies.  He was carrying the flag.  We were on the last half of the parade route.  His white dress shirt, and the t-shirt he wore underneath it stuck to his body.  He was limping slightly.  He was part of an honor guard.  He and the other uniformed men were veterans.  I suspected that he had seen or experienced things much worse than carrying that heavy flag and it’s pole for the length of a parade route.  But I felt guilty, standing there, watching him walk in the heat, carrying that flag.  But he earned that right.

As he passed I saw across the street a group of people standing when

I saw her.

She must have been in her forties, or older.  Long dark hair with some grey streaking through it.  She stood at attention, with a sharp and perfect appearing salute.  I looked at the flag bearer as he passed.  I looked back at her.  She stood at attention, with the salute, until he was well past us, then she relaxed and started talking with the people she was with.

I saw another float of veterans head our way.  In front of their float, another honor guard.  Another veteran carrying the flag.  I watched her as she snapped into attention as the flag approached, and stayed there with her salute until it was well past us.  But this time, I put my hand over my heart.

Then.

I saw him.

A man I have seen hundreds of times over the years, in passing.  A county employee who goes around cleaning up after other county employees.  He was sitting in a chair of honor on a float for veterans.

I stood at a corner.  I was clapping silently with my bike gloved hands as groups of veterans passed.  As the high school band passed.  As the militia men passed.  I clapped silently.

Then.

I heard them.

A group on the opposite corner.  For every group that was represented, they clapped.  They yelled appreciation.  Some of the groups showed their appreciation.  The veterans waved and yelled ‘thank you’.   The kids in the marching band played on without losing their concentration but it felt like they smiled a little when they were cheered.

As grateful as this sounds, I had an entire country to celebrate with on the 4th of July.

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71 thoughts on “At The Parade

  1. ksbeth says:

    i love your beautiful and kind observations of those around you, who so many never see –

  2. So true! Wonderful blessed veterans to spend the 4th of July with!

  3. oh hard to type through my tears…lovely

  4. You will never be alone Colleen. You attract the good like bees to honey.

  5. I’m glad you shared your observations. We miss so much when we don’t take the time to look. Ripples on ripples in a pond.

    • Thank you MW 51. I headed out today thinking it was going to be a bust kind of day. And then, like you said, the ripples found me and washed right over me. I am so grateful for the day I had. I’m glad I could share it.

  6. ivors20 says:

    Enthralled by your gracious views about humanity on this day, 4th July.

  7. russtowne says:

    I love that you share so much of what your beautiful heart sees. Colleen.

  8. GP Cox says:

    I wish more communities still had these parades – I could find none in my local paper!!

  9. rugby843 says:

    Loved this post.

  10. Thank you so much for this Colleen. Most of it I read through the tears. At long last we are now seeing far more parades in the UK, and have a dedicated Arms Forces Day. I always find them difficult as it brings back so many memories, but I am glad to see more people supporting them.

  11. Debra says:

    What meaningful encounters! I think you made the very most of your 4th, Colleen. I admire the way your attention gravitates to our veterans, and you set a wonderful example for us all.

  12. Beautiful and touching. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and for honoring those who deserve to be honored.

  13. Loved this! Happy 4th of July from a Canuck 😉

  14. taylormitch says:

    Thanks for the time to ponder

  15. A-men. Great realization. And you came to it beautifully in this post.

    Never Alone!

    That’s a NA thing that addicts use to combat the “oneliness of loneliness”. This post is a wonderful tribute to the idea.

  16. cheekos says:

    Chatter Master, lemons can turn into lemonade, if its in your philosophy. But, you do seem to have found the secret of life: you take a little bit of whomever you meet, even from afar; a little bit of whatever you do; and wherever you go. And, everyone is of value, especially those who don’t wave flags.

    A few months ago, I read a piece by a graduate of the Air Force Academy, who went out of is way, when he was a cadet, to learn the name of a man who swept, raked and did odd jobs around the Academy. Over time, the graduate and former officer became politically connected. One day, in reading about WWII, he noticed the name of a man who had won the Medal of Honor, for an extreme Act of Valor “Above and Beyond the call of Duty”; but, I don’t think he had ever had it pinned-on ceremonially. like they foo now.

    A few months later, when he was returning to the Academy for some function, he looked the man up and found that he was, indeed, that same Medal of Honor Hero. President Reagan was scheduled to speak a couple of days later, and the former officer got words up to the powers-to-be. That sweeper, raker and general handyman was decked-out in a Sergeant First Class uniform, sat on the stage, and the President pinned the Medal on him.

    That former graduate, on his next trip to Colorado Springs noticed that the former SFC and MOH winner still did the same jobs; but, he had changed–a spring in his step, a smile on his face and everyone said Hello, and he responded. Find out That Man’s Name!

  17. Awh. And so nice to have those veterans appreciated. I hope it’s not just on holidays such as these.

  18. Beautiful imagery. I felt like I was celebrating the country with you through your words. Thank you 🇺🇸

  19. reocochran says:

    I’m so glad Colleen you shared your warm, caring observations with us. They are like parts of my favorite writers, ones who really “see” people and imagine their stories. 💞 It makes me want to say, . . . and Colleen sets the Earth back on its rightful course.

    Up in Cleveland moving along the streets that are by the lake, Edgewater, Lake Street, Lake Road, and on Center Ridge Road, always parades for Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Veteran’s Day.

    • I find this to be an amazing compliment Robin. Thank you. I do imagine about others and what their lives are like. I can’t imagine not being able to imagine about others. There’s a play on words….

      • reocochran says:

        Yes, Colleen! Some may do this imagining other’s lives.
        You took the time to show this with heartfelt words where it became deeper than someone else may try to describe.

  20. noonespecial says:

    I ´m really so impressed, what a great ressonance you got with your post.
    Honouring people for what they deserve, never let people in lonelyness. You have the best feeling how to express in words.
    This idea should be persued, to honour all the people who fight for other people against loneliness. I´m sure you could write a lot of other blogs about this theme. Bravo!

  21. noonespecial says:

    thank you! But it is not kindness, it is just the truth!
    ….by the way, I wanted to place an emoji and I already asked this, but I just remember the answer for a mac. Can anyone tell me the shortcut for emoji in “windows”?…: )

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