Yesterday I went to watch the Wahiawa (Hawaii) Veteran's Day Parade, hosted by the Lions Club.
The parade started off, as it should, with a military color guard, The Commander and CSM, 25ID, and then a few Military Units, Former POWs, And veterans from the war of 1812 (apparently, some of these geezers were OLD, plus some Asians generally age like milk) till now. There were some veteran support groups. Then came the... others.
The lions club
The state and federal representatives (including one Maisie Horono, who Carren and I met in her office in the Capitol a few weeks ago. She took one look at my Dress Blue Uniform (the Army Service Uniform) and immediately gushed over much she loves the Air Force. The ASU isn't that new, and I'm pretty sure she's seen it on the many uniformed servicemembers who walk those halls daily, but I digress.)
Local elementary and middle schools
Local kids marching bands
Local service organizations (Rotarians, etc)
Local ethnic group organizations
Local eco tree hugging granola-eating save the planet glowball warmening retards
Everyone in a 10 mile radius who owns either a corvette, or an antique auto
Everyone with a wiener-dog
Kids from JROTC, ROTC, Navy Cadets, Civil Air Patrol, and even Marine JROTC. Some of these kids looked SHARP. Some looked like Cadet Reichsmarschalls (really, JROTC needs to re-think their awards system. This kids had more ribbons than Audie Murphy.) Others looked like 15 pounds of shit in a five pound sack. Some took pride in themselves and their uniform. Others looked like they were shot with a wrinkle gun.
In general, the bulk of the parade (and of many parades) is NOT veterans. It is not "honoring" them. It is simply a long train of people who wish to be seen, and show off, on the backs of the veterans leading the parade.
Here's how, In my not so humble opinion, a Veterans Day Parade should be run:
At a time publicized in local media well ahead of Veteran's day, local Veterans meet. The marshaling area is broken down into service (by branch) and within branch, by dates of service (Currently serving, DS Vets, VN Vets, The guy who went to Grenada, Korea Vets, WWII Vets, etc.) These banners leading these men are carried by volunteers--boy/girl scouts, for instance. A band, either an active duty band or a single band form a local high school is posted at the read of the formation. the purpose of the band is to provide military music only.
Groups who wish to "support" the parade/veterans line the parade route. Boy/Girl scouts, firemen, self-ashamed hippies, troops supporters, JROTC kids, Rotarians, Lions, Mooses, Eagles, Shriners, School kids arranged by school/grade, and all of the other people currently in the parade who are *not* veterans. They line the streets along the route and cheer, clap, pay respect to our veterans. Participating in the parade is limited to Veterans ONLY. The Veterans show their pride by wearing the uniform they served in. Charlatans who show up claiming service, awards, etc who are proven to be frauds are crucified (by tying, not nailing) behind the grand stand, and kept there throughout the parade, to watch the real men parade by. Afterwards, they are tarred and feathered and released.
The local government functionaries (congressmen, etc) are given NO place in the parade, unless they are veterans, and if so, will fall in to the group they served with, in uniform. Uniforms may also be provided by service organizations, if the Veterans either don't have one from their days in the service, or if it fits poorly, or has been made into some retarded looking shirt with patches from everywhere they've been. If government officials wish to participate and demand to do so, they are handed brooms and directed to sweep the streets ahead of the servicemembers.
Civilians are encouraged to attend the Parade. Businesses are encouraged to close up shop--if not for the day, then during the hours of the parade. Veterans are not to work on Veterans day--and employers should be encouraged to pay them anyway. Any federal or state employee who is not a veteran, works on veterans day, except during the hours scheduled for the Parade.
No one is forced to attend the parade, but the parade is a good opportunity to recognize the many veterans in our communities--and only those veterans. Any group that isn't comprised completely of veterans that marches in a veterans parade (yes, including the boy scouts that my son joined in marching yesterday) doesn't honor the Veterans. It draws attention away from them.
Is the parade in your town about veterans, or is it about veterans plus organizations/politicians who want to be seen?