Today, DH and I went into the village, and attended it's annual Memorial Day Parade. For such a small place; it really is a village, population of around a thousand, maybe, the parade is a big doings. People come from quite far to see it, and for a half a day, the village swells to more than five times it's normal population. As DS2 once described it; it is a "Four hundred cars and six hundred tractors" parade, and takes nearly an hour start to finish. Nearly an hour to parade all of one mile, which is pretty much one end of the village to the other: four blocks. It is quite the big deal around here.
So, we went to the parade. We got there about an hour and a half ahead of the time the parade was to start. If you want to get a good road-side seat, and possibly even one near a shady tree, you have to get there quite a bit early. We set up our chairs, then walked to a few yard sales going on, and I of course had to go to the library's annual used book sale (where I scored a whole bunch of hardbound Richard Scarry books as well as a couple of Carl the dog picture books for my "Grandkid Library" at home).
DS1, K3 and Toad also came to the parade. But did I get any pictures? No. I was too busy having grandkids on my lap, and having them point out to me motorcycles and dogs and all the flags everywhere and little kids in wagons while we waited for the parade to start. And once the parade did start, well, the very first thing in this parade is the color guard, the riderless horse with the empty boots in it's stirrups representing the fallen soldier, and the local veterans. The eldest ones get to ride in special cars and on farm wagons fitted with folding chairs. Once they get to the center of town, followed by the high school marching band, there is a call for all the veterans in the crowd to please come out into the street and join them.
Once the many, many veterans are assembled, everyone in the crowd claps loud and long. Then the band plays the national anthem.
It was while they did that, with all the veterans standing and saluting or otherwise in the correct pose for their branch of service while the Star Spangled Banner plays, that I really, really wanted to take a picture. Because there, just a few yards away from me, in the street, stood DS1, ramrod straight, arms at his side, fingers curled, like the proud Marine he is. To his left, and in front of him, were many older men, all farmers, all veterans. To his right, barely tall enough for his little blonde head to reach the hem of DS1's shorts (since DS1 is very tall: 6'3"+), stood Toad, who had followed his Daddy out with the other men. Toad looked up at DS1, then he too put his shoulders back, and his arms straight at his sides, and made little fists of his hands. And he stood like that until the band was finished and DS1 shifted his stance to parade rest.
The mama and grandma in me so wanted to bend down, get my phone, turn on it's camera, and take a picture of DS1, Toad, and the old veterans standing at attention. But I knew while it would be a cute picture, it would also be very irreverent of me to quit my stance of honor and attention to my nation's anthem just in order to get a picture. Irreverent to the veterans who stood in the street, and especially to those who were not there, all the ones who had died in service to our country.
I am so lucky to have my son standing there, finished with his service, alive and in one piece. I have never personally known anyone who died during military service. But every one of those men in the street in front of me had friends and brothers in arms who made the ultimate sacrifice. The lack of a cute picture of my guys at today's parade is a trivial thing compared to what those soldiers, sailors, coast guardsmen, airmen and marines have been through.