Philly parade disrespects veterans

Watching the Veterans Parade Sunday on 6ABC was disappointing, and reminded me that until 2015, Philadelphia didn’t have one at all. And never had. 

That October I wrote a piece for the Daily News that gave credit to the guy who got it off the ground —Navy veteran Scott Brown, director of the city’s Veterans Advisory Commission.

Last Sunday, I saw it hadn’t gotten very far off the ground.

Happy female veterans

The reviewing stand — and bleachers — were on Market, between 6th and 5th streets.

There were so very few onlookers, it was pathetic. An embarrassment. Disrespectful. 6ABC wrapped up its telecast even before the parade ended. Disrespectful.

There wasn’t even a single line of spectators along the curb. The bleachers were not even half filled, as men and women in uniform trooped by. 

The veterans gamely smiled and waved, but what were they thinking?

Was their service remembered and respected?

I couldn’t ask them because I, like everyone else, was not there.

So what gives me the right to complain?

They did. Through their service, and their fighting for America, and the rights of every American.

I did not serve in the military because the government did not ask me to serve. I married and had children at an early age, and the government seemed satisfied with me producing targets. 

I always felt I missed something by not wearing a uniform, other than Boy Scout Troop #352, Bronx, N.Y.

Very few spectators are seen along the curb

Nearly every one of my friends who served found something useful in the service. It may have been learning something new — like following orders 😄— or a trade, or how to get along with people from far-flung regions of the country; people of different colors, religions, faiths. 

I know people — part of the so-called, pre-war Silent Generation — who were sent overseas and were stationed in places they would not have dreamed of — Italy, Vietnam, Germany, South Korea, Australia. 

They went into service as kids, came out as seasoned men.

I missed that and as I age, I have come to more and more respect those who protected me. When I thank veterans for their service, I usually explain this is personal, that they protected me and my family. I am grateful.

The greatest gratitude is reserved for those who made the greatest sacrifice, those who died.

And of those, I am most moved by those who died in World War II, the war to save the world from fascism. And I mean real fascism, not the word that is thrown about by woke college kids who find the word “service” to be a mystery,

.

What pulled me to Normandy in 2019 was the 75th anniversary of D-Day, and specifically to the American cemetery on a bluff above the sea with 9,388 tombstones, each one angled toward America, the hime they would never again see.

They died for me.

I am eternally grateful, but how do I show it?

Like everyone else, I wasn’t at the parade.

I didn’t even know when and where the parade would be held.

That’s a marketing problem.

But to market well, you need something to market, and our threadbare parade had exactly one World War tank, as far as I could tell.

Yeah, I am about to go full military.

You want to get the crowds out, you need the Blue Angels Navy precision flight team, or the Golden Knights Army precision parachute team.

We have the U.S.S. New Jersey sitting in the Delaware River. Have the Big J fire those four 12-inch guns, powerful enough to throw a VW all the way to Trenton. (A dummy blast, of course.)

We need Jeeps, and tanks, howitzers, guided missiles, fighter jets, trucks, fuel tankers, medical equipment, K-9s, machine guns, communications gear.

Yeah, I know some people are icky about guns,  conveninetly forgetting that whenever we were threatened it was guns that guaranteed our liberty. 

Philly had some ROTC units in the parade, but no drill teams. We must recruit units that have drill teams, along with drill teams from the armed services. 

There’s no reason we couldn’t also have collegiate marching bands, ethnic dancers, and Mummers. 

Shorten the parade route. Start on Chestnut at 5th, with reviewing stands across from Independence Hall. Turn left on 6th up to Market, turn left on Market and end at 10th. 

Or maybe we should just have a ceremony in the Linc.

I just feel we must improve on what we have.

13 thoughts on “Philly parade disrespects veterans”

  1. Couldn’t agree with you more, Stu. The Veteran’s Day Parade should be as much of a spectacle as the other big Parades we have (Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Parade and the like.)
    I can recall a Veteran’s Day Parade when I was very young (almost as old as you, Stu) where the tanks were rolled out and the streets were jammed. As a child the noise gave me the willies (old phrase). Drill teams, flags, military bands—-that’s what I’d like to see.
    Like you, I didn’t serve, and I’ve often regretted it, just for the life experiences it could have prepared me for.

  2. Improve. Great way to remember, Stu, and the following another reason to honor the forgotten.  I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of……

    Exercise Tiger, or Operation Tiger, was one of a series of large-scale rehearsals for the D-Day invasion of Normandy, which took place in April 1944 on Slapton Sands in Devon. Coordination and communication problems resulted in friendly fire deaths during the exercise, and an Allied convoy positioning itself for the landing was attacked by E-boats of Nazi Germany’s Kriegsmarine, resulting in the deaths of at least 749 American servicemen.[1][2]

    American troops landing on Slapton Sands in England during rehearsals for the invasion of Normandy

    Because of the impending invasion of Normandy, the incident was under the strictest secrecy at the time and was only nominally reported afterwards.

  3. HAPPY WEDNESDAY !!!
    Stu,
    Great review on the parade. I don’t watch military parades. I never watch war movies. I don’t need to rekindle memories.
    The Iowa class USS New Jersey has 9 SIXTEEN INCH GUNS for starters. My buddy was a forward observer for the New Jersey in Nam. She could fire those guns with pin point accuracy as far as 23 miles.
    I remember when Scott Brown came on board. I forget all of the details about Scott. I know that he was shocked that we didn’t have a parade and was surprised to find negative reaction to the thought of having a parade.
    Yeah, we had them in the ’50s & early ’60s. When we came back from our tour of duty parades were scattered, few and far between. ( I didn’t need the VFW either, but that’s another story. )
    You may remember that Philly has the dubious honor of having the highest High School casualties in the country. Edison H.S. lost 64 of our brothers in Vietnam. And as you also know, Mt. Hope cemetery, Aston, PA, has over 1500 interned Veterans dating back to the revolution. Proud to say, my wife is there with her family. They are well represented. Grandpop Morton was WW I. Pop Kirkwood was WW II. Debora Clark is a Vietnam era Vet.
    Thank You to all that served. Welcome Home.
    Tony

      1. HAPPY WEDNESDAY Tom,
        As you know. Most of our Presidents do NOT permit retaliation to our foes. I personally don’t think that we came close to getting even, never mind retaliating.
        Hope your Thanksgiving is a memorable one.
        Tony
        P.S.
        Thanks for serving. Welcome Home.

  4. We, the Benedicts, are a proud three-generation military family. Dad was Army in WWII (captured at the Bulge by the Germans and freed from his POW camp in April 1945); I was USAF 1960-1964, stationed for two years in Japan (Russian translator) and caught smack dab in the middle of the October ’62 Cuban Missiles Crisis, and two of my sons served, one in the Army (in Germany for five years) and one still serving (a major in the Army NG medical corps). I know the military shaped me up, as it did my sons. Veterans Day is a special day for all vets. It’s too bad so few people know of their many sacrifices over the years. Philadelphia gets the crowds out for all sorts of celebrations. I guess vets embarrass the City.

      1. Thanks, Tony. Seems like it was yesterday, but so many years have passed…and so swiftly! Congrats and thanks to all our vets on this special day.

  5. My GGGrandfather injured his eye on board a gunboat searching for Confederate ships along the Atlantic and up the Pacific in 1865-66. He eventually lost his sight in that eye after his tour and his other one before he died in 1906. His grave had no marker until this year. It was Tony Clark who pointed me in the right direction. After a year of phone calls and filing paper work with the VA Charles Gillis now has his marker.

    Tony is a great patriot, untiring and generous in his search to honor our deceased veterans. Thank you my friend. And thank you for your service and Welcome home.
    Tom

  6. I did serve, and some of that service was in Philly while in uniform and then as a veteran – thanks to all people of the City of Brotherly Love, PA and USA worthy of service. Despite the angst we find ourselves in as a nation, I still hold on to the threads of our exceptionalism. One part of it displayed here, by so many who did not serve in uniform, serve now in caring about veterans – that says a lot.

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