Saturday, February 19, 2005

I hope you made it to the Iwo Jima Commemoration in Fredericksburg over the weekend. The Heroes Parade on Saturday was amazing. It wasn't the best parade I've ever seen--there was a distinct absence of fair queens and not one horse--but it ranks up there with one of the most moving.

There have been three similar parades here in the last ten years. In September of 1995, the Nimitz Musuem hosted V+50, a celebration of the end of World War II. The organizers invited any and all veterans of the war to town, loaded them up on dozens of military trucks, and drove them down Main Street so everyone could clap, cheer and thank them.

In 2001, the museum commemorated the 60th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor with another parade. Since there were only Pearl Harbor survivors, there weren't as many trucks. It brought a lump to my throat to see the folks of this town lining the street cheering for people who risked their lives for this country.

The parade started off with the band from Fort Sam, the 4th USMC Recon Battallion stationed at Lackland AFB in San Antonio. Then came the reenactors in their vehicles.

Behind them were ROTC units from all over the state. The local high school's Navy ROTC unit marched, as did the ROTC unit from one of my alma maters, The University of Texas, and a couple of military schools.

Finally, the veterans rolled by. Once again, the crowds lining the streets cheered these real heroes. It was moving to see children being lifted up by their parents to give these guys carnations. Not even the misting rain, which had grounded the Commemorative Air Force fly-over, could dampen the spirit of the crowd.

I had to leave early, because I was helping out at the reenactment. More on that later.

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