This should come as no surprise by now, but the local Veteran’s Day parade is among the long list of things that make me cry. If I ever get a role in a local production of Steel Magnolias, I want to be Truvey because “happiness through tears” is apparently my favorite emotion. I can’t seem to help it. Every year I watch the parade as it passes in front of my workplace. Every year I try to hold that bottom lip still, and every year I have to pick it up off the curb. This year was no different.
Our community does a good job of saluting its veteran’s on Veteran’s Day, I think. Employees from the downtown business district come outside to watch the parade, and schools from all over the region bring in busloads of children who wave their flags from the sidewalks and yell out their thanks to the veterans who walk and ride by on floats. And it’s always the school kids who make my eyes start to well up, especially the really young children.
But it’s the veterans who keep me from staying composed, with their smiles.
And quiet gestures, like the occasional wave to a stranger.
Or a salute.
Or a connection with one of their own.
And respect from those who understand the price paid for being able to wave a flag on a city street.
Or perhaps paid that price.
And while I thought for just one tiny moment, I was going to be able to keep that fat tear from sliding down my cheek this year, this sign drifted across my lens and pushed that tear and a few of its buddies to my chin.
I don’t know who Papa Raymond was but that sign sent my soul on a sentimental journey to those years ago when my long dead grandpa shared his World War II stories. As I sat on the curb pretending to take pictures, I kicked myself for succumbing yet again to my emotions.
However, as I type this many hours later, I’ve changed my mind. I’ve decided that the day I don’t feel the emotion behind the waves and salutes and flag waving, will be a sad day indeed. Perhaps, it’s a good thing that I always cry at the parade.