I Love My TownMay 28, 2008
Scottdale is a small town, just under 5,000 people, and covering an area of about 1.2 square miles. That’s slightly smaller than Central Park in NYC. So you understand, this is a small place, a tightly knit community, and one that has a particular amount of pride, a sense of what is honorable, and an understanding about respect for each other as well as respect for traditions that hold a community together.
This past Monday, we celebrated Memorial Day, like so many other towns across the nation. Our veterans lead the parade followed by the Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts, and our high school marching band. This parade is not like the ones I marched in as a youth in a town just a few miles away. Scottdale’s parade is not much of a celebration. It’s a somber occasion, and one that the residents take very seriously. The band does not play a selection, no rousing marches, no spirited patriotic tunes. No, this is a solemn morning, a time for reflection. The only sound is a funeral cadence.
Many watch the procession, applauding the veterans, removing their caps for the flag, and wave to the firemen following the marchers. As the firetrucks signal the end of the parade, most of the town follow them to the cemetary at the edge of town. We gather quietly amidst the final resting place of our relatives and friends. The Scouts stand at attention, the band forms in a clear area, and the local dignitaries take their places for the ceremony. We are welcomed, and we begin the task of honoring our local heroes, thanking our veterans, and praying for those who serve in the military now. This is the celebration, the band performs a few patriotic songs, an honored guest offers a speech, guns are fired in salute, and taps is played to honor those men and women who gave of themselves to preserve our freedom.
I’m proud of the way our community celebrates this day. These people show up for this solemn event. They greet each other quietly, hold those who’ve recently lost a loved one, and honor not only those who have passed, but those veterans who served. One can see on their faces the respect they have for each other, and as music plays, names and faces are brought to memory. Single tears can be seen on the faces of the old and young.
This was a beautiful Memorial Day, not only in the way the weather heralded the beginning of summer, but more so in the way this small town paused to commemorate this solemn holiday. Before they fire up their grills, open their pools, or pack the picnic lunches and head for the lake or the state parks, these good people stop and remember, gather and build each other up, and honor those who make it possible to live the lives we have been granted.