Veteran’s Day parade, part 1

Prussian charge
I should say that I had never watched a veteran’s parade, I think. Wasn’t it supposed to be a parade of veterans? This was a parade of mostly active duty soldiers and soldiers-to-be. It was very disturbing.

There was a flatbed trailer, there may have been several of these interspersed, on which stood a current war hero. He straddled the platform, his hands on his hips, striking a valiant pose, his chin held high and to the side. A large placard read: recipient of medal so-and-so.

There were marching bands, real young faces. I hoped that as excited as they were to be in the parade, that they weren’t thinking of joining the military.

I had just met a gentleman looking for legal advice for his daughter who’d recently signed up. She was a promising musician in high school, she played the coronet. A recruiter had told her that the army was in desperate need of musicians. They needed her for their marching band. The recruiter assured her that she wouldn’t have anything to do with the fighting, but that she could serve her country in its hour of need, by offering to do something that she loved. She signed on.

No sooner was she through boot camp that she learned she was being sent to Iraq. She and her fellow musicians were told: leave your instruments at home, you won’t need them.

Among the marching bands was a band called the Rampart Regiment, (actually Rampart High School’s marching band, and state champions). But their uniforms were terribly unfortunate. They were black, a sort of turn of the century look with high hats, and a large black feather. They looked like Prussians, or what we would recreate in our minds if we were trying to visualize those mercenary Hessians! Their outfits hearkened to a day when the uniforms meant to intimidate.

Does anyone remember what distinguished the aggressive from the defensive soldiers in the last world wars? The Allies had the frumpy uniforms because they didn’t mind being seen as sympathetic. The aggressive soldiers are the ones who want to scare the bejezus out of their enemies. This has been true since warfare began.

White hat versus black hat, it’s true for cowboys and hackers. Good guys and bad guys.

What was Rampart thinking to dress their band looking like black draped raiders? They look like Cossacks about to swing down and slice you in the back as you try to flee from them.

What business do we have trying to glorify the terror of war?

I was horrified too by what appeared to be den mothers, preening their little kids in their little uniforms, to salute the passing soldiers. These were not just boy scout uniforms but miniature military outfits. I couldn’t help but think these kids were wishing that someday they too could be featured in the parade.

At that point I noticed there weren’t any wheelchairs in the parade. Top be sure many of the WWII vets may not be so ambulatory nowadays, but their disabilities were concealed by the antique cars from which they waved. Why couldn’t something like that have been arranged for the wounded Iraq war vets?

There weren’t any crutches or wheelchairs or homeless drunkards which comprise the largest contingent of Vietnam vets. Now we’re learning it’s even more true for the Gulf Gar vets. And there were no mentally addled vets with bandaged heads to symbolize their injuries.

And certainly the Veterans For Peace and the Iraq Veterans Against the War were denied permission to participate.

Then there was something most disturbing of all: a guy in army fatigues, youngish, stocky, probably a drill sergeant but uncharacteristically casual, and he was working the crowd. In nonchalant fashion, he was rallying both participants and spectators with a call and response routine.

“God bless America” he would shout. “God bless America” the crowd answered. I was reminded of something Bismark had famously said in the 19th century: “God protects fools, drunkards, and the United States of America.”

There we were, this veteran’s day, a day to honor veterans, ignoring the veterans altogether. An active duty soldier rallying soldiers and the families of soldiers: “God bless America.” “God bless America.”

Over and over. “God bless America.” “God bless America.”

We will need it.

2 thoughts on “Veteran’s Day parade, part 1

  1. AvatarKevin Rodgers

    Please do not insult my band in the future. I am part of the Rampart Reagiment, and those uniforms are supposed to look aggressive. Especially since Marching Band shows rely on impacts, aggressiveness, and explosions of sound. until you know more about marching bands sir, please do not critique us. Once you have won a state championship, you can tell us how to do it.
    Thank you,
    Kevin Rodgers

  2. AvatarEric

    No insult intended, and I mentioned that your band won the state championship. No doubt your intimidating uniforms are effective.

    But how appropriate is it to make an aggressive impression in a Veterans Day parade? Couldn’t you have worn a home-game outfit -maybe a sunnier look?

    Perhaps I am only making an assumption that Veterans Day honors the soldiers instead of glorifying war.

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