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May 24, 2009

Memorial Day

Memorial Day weekend is the best weekend of the year. For one thing it’s got parades. My daughter marched in our little town parade yesterday, which featured an appearance by Connecticut’s own Lieutenant Governor, ____ _____. I’m leaving the space blank because I have no idea what his name is, but he seemed pleasant enough in a bland politician kind of way. He wore one of those sports coats that only men of a certain age and Century 21 real estate agents can get away with. I was surprised to see that the Lt. Governor has two security guys that travel with him, both of whom had earpieces. Who were they listening to on the earpieces? There were only two of them and they were right next to each other. Can’t they just communicate directly to each other without an electronic intermediary? I really don’t think there were extra, hidden security guys, and I doubt there were any snipers in the bushes or anything like that. My guess? They just feel cool wearing the earpieces. Or they have second jobs at the Gap.

I felt kind of bad for all the assembled politicos in attendance, who have to put their hands over their hearts every time the national anthem is played, and bow their heads at every convocation, benediction, and religious utterance of any kind. They must say “amen” every time somebody else says “amen.” Our Congressman Jim Hines looked he had to sneeze during the ecumenical Memorial Day prayer. His face got all contorted and screwy, and I wondered if his allergies were bothering him like mine were bothering me. I know I would not have thought less of his patriotism if he had sneezed during the prayer, let alone let out several loud farts as I did. I definitely honor our fallen soldiers, but what’s a fellow going to do when he has to cut one? 

Before the parade, we all assembled at the elementary school, which gave me an opportunity to observe the Boy Scouts at close range. Boy Scouts creep me out. Last winter, my son was interested in joining so we went to a Cub Scouts orientation meeting to get a feel for the organization. I was not expecting the overwhelming feelings of creepiness that overcame me during the meeting. First of all, any group which features so many middle-aged guys in quasi-military uniforms is inherently weird. The whole thing struck me as a paramilitary Christian organization whose main purpose seemed to be to tell each other what to do and sell Christmas wreaths. As a Jew, any youth organization in which people earn badges and wear matching uniforms makes me nervous.

The Daisies, which my daughter belongs to, is different. For one thing, instead of uniforms they wear smocks. Smock-based organizations are fine with me because they make me think of finger painting, which I like. Also, Daisies are a feeder organization for the Girl Scouts, which seems more pleasant than Boy Scouts if only because they sell cookies and because I’ve never met anybody older than ten who is still a Girl Scout.

Also marching on this day honoring our fallen dead were the local Little League teams. My wife correctly noted that T-Ball doesn’t necessarily have much to do with the Battle of Bull Run, but it’s a small town and it seemed silly to quibble about inclusion. These are exactly the sorts of arguments that caused so much controversy when gay Irish people wanted to march in New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. My feeling with the gays and with the Little Leaguers is that everybody should be welcome. Gay Little Leaguers might have been pushing it, however. Also inappropriately marching was the Boys and Girls Club and the local karate school.

Suspiciously absent, however, was the high school marching band. What is the purpose of a marching band if not to march? Marching opportunities come far and few between in small towns, so it seemed somewhat strange that they were not there. Perhaps these high schoolers hate America, I do not know, but a little spirited John Phillip Sousa would definitely have been welcome.

After the parade, as I said, there was a short service honoring the dead, followed by hot dogs and ice cream for everybody, provided you had money, which we did because I’m on TV.

Memorial Day is one of the few good holidays whose meaning has not become totally obscured over time. Despite the car sales and barbecues, I believe that people still take a few moments on Memorial Day to think about our great soldiers, and the sacrifices they’ve made over the centuries. I know I do. Especially now that we’ve got so many people in harm’s way, Memorial Day is a perfect opportunity to offer a “thank you” for their service. My brother-in-law is currently serving in Iraq, so although I have never before used the phrase “I’d like to give a shout-out,” I’d like to give a shout-out to him on this Memorial Day. We are a better country because of our military. We are also a better country because of the topless shows in Vegas, but that is a subject for a different post.

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I like Memorial Day. It is a day for great barbecue gatherings for the community.

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