It’s one of the largest parades of its kind in the nation.
It’s held on Memorial Day every year right here in Springfield, and despite some uncooperative weather, that tradition continued on Monday.
While the day started out rainy and chilly, hundreds of individuals took part in the procession and thousands lined the parade route along West High Street, and Fountain and McCreight avenues to watch it.
Another tradition was also very much in evidence: stopping by Schuler’s Bakery before heading off to the parade. Boxes of goodies were spotted in a variety of places.
The impact of the unusual weather was also something that struck me. As I drove the WHIO Radio van at the rear of the parade, I was amazed at how many people were there wrapped up in rain gear, heavy clothing and even blankets. It looked more like a parade held for Veteran’s Day than Memorial Day. What a change from the normal hot and humid conditions that usually arrive just in time for the holiday.
The parade is important because it is one of only a few events each year that brings the entire community together. And it provides an opportunity to visit with people you don’t see on a regular basis and to meet new people.
This year’s parade theme was “The American Flag: A Symbol of Freedom.” The grand marshal, Vietnam War Veteran Clyde Parsons, was also the featured speaker at the ceremony that followed at Ferncliff Cemetery. He said that theme “is particularly meaningful to me and to all who served and have served.”
Parsons went on to say, “in Vietnam, I saw how oppressive and barbaric leaders can be.”
And he related that while a part of him is annoyed when the American flag is burned, he notes it is often burned because our flag is such a symbol of freedom around the world.
Parsons also stressed, “We are not going away, freedom is tenacious. Those of us who serve and have served are marching behind our flag and always will.”
Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland commented on the importance of the ceremony that follows the parade.
“Here is where we say those words about those who serve,” Copeland said. “We come here to recognize the sacrifice of those who serve.”
I have been in other cities — some the same size or even larger than Springfield — and watched those cities’ Memorial Day parades. They pale by comparison.
This community should be proud of the grand tradition that continues today and of the hard work and dedication of those who organize the events.