Walking the Memorial Day parade, at one point in my life, felt like torture. I had to wear a full band uniform and march with a giant sousaphone in 90 degree heat for what felt like an eternity. I was young and selfish and didn't think about why we did it or why it was important. I didn't think of the community and the show of pride and thanks that just being there represented.
So walking in this year's Memorial Day parade, almost 15 years later, hit me in a different way. Not only did I get to bring my young nephew with me (who was over the moon to be responsible for handing out candy to all the kids) I got to see how dedicated and excited people were to show this sense of civic pride. To show the brave women and men who gave their lives for our freedom that we truly appreciated it. To unite, not divide. But it was not without some nuanced feelings.
I chose not to walk with my own banner or hand out any products with my name on it. This wasn't for lack of ability but conflicted feelings on how to approach it. This day is for showing thanks for the fallen, not for pushing a personal name or agenda. At the same time, I believe it is important to show out in full force so that people see that you do feel that thanks and that gratitude. In the end, I decided to walk with the Midland Democratic Party and forgo any personal branding.
This isn't to say what I did was right or what others did was wrong. It's simply how I felt about it in the moment.
But those thoughts aren't the only reason for this post. I also wanted to thank Midland and all the participants and all the attendees. Walking the parade I couldn't help but get emotional. Seeing so much patriotism and thanks. Not seeing anyone angry at a politician or political party, just people from all walks showing up to show appreciation to those who died for our rights to disagree and debate. Those who gave everything so we could have anything. I thought about how many people in our community and communities like ours all over the state and country live with daily reminders of the loved ones lost.
I want us to keep this in mind. Not just on Memorial Day but every day. Not to feel bad, but to think about how we treat each other and remember what was given so that we can have the safety and freedom to have these debates. We need to be respectful of the lives lost and thankful that we have the ability to share opinions in this country. Let's not resort to name calling or hate speech, instead let's give the lives lost the honor they deserve and work together to help our community now and for the future.
Thank you to everyone who came out and took part on Memorial Day, and an eternal thank you to the brave who gave their lives for our freedom.