HOBOKEN, NJ — Today is Memorial Day in the U.S. It’s a holiday to remember all those who died while serving in our country in the military.
Hoboken celebrated Memorial Day last Wednesday with its annual parade. And this huge flag was flown just a few blocks from my home:It was 6:30 p.m., and people were starting to gather at my end of town to wait for the parade, which started at City Hall, on the other end of town. Orange police barricades were up to keep everyone on the sidewalks. Everyone that is, but me. I was standing smack in the middle of the road (obviously), in front of the reviewing stands, to take this photo. Sometimes, when you’re an author, you just have to be brazen like that!
Soon, the parade came up the street, led by Hoboken’s Finest on motorcycle! Hoboken’s annual Memorial Day Parade is the oldest continuous parade in New Jersey, according to the city’s website. And a police motorcade is a classy way to start!
Next came the Port Authority Police, NY & NJ, Pipes and Drums:Then came the Veterans:People shouted their names. And clapped. And whistled. It was not Veterans Day, it was Memorial Day, and these are the guys who were with those who are not with us today. They carried flags. They wore their berets and their memories. They smiled and waved.
Next came JROTC groups, high school marching bands, and politicians: The Girl Scouts also marched by:As did the Boy Scouts:What fun!
Then came Hoboken’s Finest:And Hoboken’s Bravest:Did you know that our high school has it’s own rescue truck? I didn’t. High school rescuers were lauded for their relentless help during Hurricane Sandy as they marched by:Way to go, Redwings!
And this fife and drum corps came all the way from Concord, Massachusetts, which is hard to spell, to help us remember our fallen:Next came the Hoboken Historical Museum:And the rear guard, Hoboken’s Finest, again, gave the parade a classy ending as it did a classy beginning: After that, there was a picnic for all at the Elks Lodge, where 3,000 hot dogs with the works, were served:There, I met the Hoboken Nine, our vintage baseball team, which dresses in vintage uniforms and plays by the original rules:Well, actually, it was the Hoboken Five. Maybe the rest of the team didn’t get there in time on their horse and buggies.
Did you know that Hoboken is the birthplace of baseball? A few blocks from my home, at the intersection of 11th and Washington Streets, the original bases of the first game are set in brass numbers on each of the corresponding street corners. It’s very cool.
Anyway, I digress.
When you’re an author, you never know when you’ll come upon a idea and digress and digress and digress.
But back to Memorial Day. After reading some online tributes today to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to our nation, it occurred to me that most of them were between the ages of 18 and 25. YOUNG. Even younger, if you go back to the American Civil War, when boys as young as 12 had served, and after which the holiday started.
This is not a day for remembering the old. It’s a day for remembering the young. Words used to describe them include “loyal, honorable, selfless, smart, fearless, courageous.” Traits of heroes.
Is it really possible to be so fully formed at such a young age?
It is. Or there wouldn’t be a Memorial Day. It’s our day to be grateful.