Celebrating Memorial Day parade on the Fourth of July

... better late than never -- it's the season for patriots

from Don Norris

Three, maybe four thousand people either marched in, or were spectators of Melrose's annual Memorial Day parade. It appears that fewer and fewer veterans -- of all wars -- are taking part, that aging is taking a toll. It also appears evident that our Federal Government has been providing a need for armed forces with wars, mini-wars, actions, picking sides -- all of which would, it seems, would provide a continuing flow of younger vets.

It seems obvious that the Memorial Day Parade could have made the June issue -- except editor/writer/photographer Don Norris had a set-back in his recovery of last January's viral attack. But it also appears obvious that, because of the Fourth Of July celebration, that we run the photos in July.

At Wyoming Cemetery, we recognize Alderman Donald Conn with Police Chief Mike Lyle. At the right is Chief of the Melrose Fire Department John O'Brien, one of several dignitaries that participated in the parade from downtown to the two veterans' sites at Wyoming Cemetery.

There were at least a dozen marching bands and music makers, including one unit of bagpipers that were perhaps the most visual because of strange sounds they produced. There was also a Latin-American contingent sponsored by our own "Mexico Lindo" restaurant downtown

The cavalry has arrived. It was a smart-looking group of three officers and one sergeant. I tried to talk to the head officer, but when I told him all my people were from the deep south, he yanked the reins over, gave his mount a nudge and left this southern sympathizer standing there. All went well until one of the horses made a large deposit in front of the old Melrose Savings Bank, whereupon the rest of the parade had to take a quick "Half-left, march" The group of 30 or so vets-of-all-wars, parading behind the cavalry, made much humor -- about horses right in the middle of town. Nevertheless, the troop of four looked really good.

Most of Melrose's social groups participated -- the Elks, the Knights of Columbus, the Masons, most of the schools ...

At the World War I monument, there was music by the men's acapella group, the band from Melrose High School played, there were several speakers, after which the group moved a few hundred yards east to the Veterans Knoll.

The Scouts looked good at the ceremony on the Knoll. I was a Scout for four years, earned the Eagle Badge, and commend the troop for taking part in this important community event.

There were several speakers, ending with Lieutenant Colonel Jim Milano, who spoke at length from scanty notes. A former mayor for 16 years, Jim is now in his one-hundredth year.

July 1, 2009

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