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Reflections of Memorial Day

Memorial Day parades were a pride filled celebration of national unity.


Reflections of Memorial Day

by Jim Boyer

It was not long after WWII had ended. My family lived in the San Francisco East Bay Area. In those days Memorial Day parades were a pride filled celebration of national unity.

I was curbside at the parade with my father, my godfather and my cousin who was still recovering from an injury suffered during the war. Out of the cluster of baton twirlers and local dignitaries on horseback or sitting in open top convertibles my most vivid memory is the passing military band and Color Guard.

I think this is the oldest memory I carry from my childhood. Decades later, I remember it like it was yesterday.

We were standing near the reviewing stand when the military band came by. The music echoed and the announcer’s voice blared out over the public address system. “Ladies and Gentlemen, please stand for ….”

I was only 5 or six years old and easily able to worm my way between the forest of adult legs to position myself right on the curb and watch them pass.

The dress uniforms were perfect and instruments were shiny. The color guard followed the band and I was aware of the people around me and across the street removing their hats, putting their hands over their hearts or holding rigid salutes.

Along with the military units there were platoons of veterans from all branches; Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines marching together. They had fought not because of what was in front of them, but what was behind them.

I turned and pushed my way back to see the men in my family standing, saluting and paying respect with tears running down all of their faces as Old Glory was passing, glowing in the summer sun.

New car styles changed every year. The milkman left bottles on the back porch. The war was over and our country was hopeful.


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