WPCNR NEWS & COMMENT. By John F. Bailey. May 26, 2020:
It was not really Memorial Day in White Plains without the Memorial Day Parade.
In years past, I recall Jewish Veterans of Foreign Wars marching stalwartly. Korean War Veterans with measured purpose and quiet honor. The White Plains High School Band playing. The Thomas Slater Center Drum and Bugle Corps rumbling down Mamaroneck Avenue, somber cadences, rolling thunder, chilling thrilling celebrating the resolute courage of young men and women with everything to live for offered their lives to preserve the ideal of America, 244 years ago.
Then the Vietnam War veterans would parade past greeted with respect and applause. Younger faces from the newer wars, the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts would march. The Common Council and Mayor would proceed from the White Plains Library to Mamaroneck Avenue then down Mamaroneck Avenue swinging right onto Main Street and past the reviewing stand in front of city hall. Then up North Broadway to the White Plains Rural Cemetery
Older veterans would receive rides up to the Rural Cemetery, children would march alongside the bands and contingents of veterans as they marched.
At the Cemetery, the National Anthem would be played. They would read the poem, Flanders Fields. Remarks would be made by an honored veteran, and reminisces of what the young patriots who died who might have been if they had not lost their lives fighting for truth, justice and the American Way for freedom for this country.
Mayors, veterans themselves, of the past would speak whether it was Joe Delfino, Alfred Del Vecchio, Dick Hendy they would place wreaths before the old faded stones of American Revolutionary patriots.
The tombstones of the first Americans who gave their lives are virtually unreadable today, but the stones speak their eloquence of excellence, not to be forgotten.
Coronavirus caused many ceremonies to be cancelled out of fear of spreading the virus.
It is poignant that when you needed the veterans to march on Memorial Day, this year they could not. Previously they often did even when it rained.
I remember along the sidewalks of Mamaroneck Avenue, citizens holding hands of children and grandchildren came out. Not huge crowds but spectators to give tribute, thanks, and credit to everyday persons who stepped out up out of the crowd to another level and made a difference for millions, with their lives.
The parade goers applauded politely with dignity as the fighters for freedom, the keepers of the American Dream marched quietly, somberly acknowledging the applause, somewhat humble as the veterans marched to remember and the citizens remembered too.
This year the parade was cancelled on the one day we all needed to remember what it takes to be free and the dear cost our freedom was purchased with—lives, hopes, dreams.
In the distant past of memory at the Rural Cematery in white plains there would be a 21 gun salute with muskets. Taps would be played, mellow, drifting with melancholy on the fresh spring air, remembrance and respect soothing over the graves with the little American Flags by the stones, whisking back and forth.
I hope the parade will be back next year. We like it. We need it. The country needs it.
Thank you, veterans. Thank you to the departed.