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.
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.
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.