Sunday, November 29, 2009

Last Veterans' Day Parade of the decade, and you gotta grumble about it...

In a letter published in Saturday's Standard-Times (enlabeled "In Veterans Day parade, vets play second fiddle," also available at SouthCoastToday.com through the folowing link) former editor Ken Hartnett "[c]an't help but wonder why New Bedford parade planners persist in pushing our honored veterans way back in the ranks of parade marchers, giving the place of honor to politicians, notably the mayor and city councilors."
Aware of belaboring the alliteration, I profess that I have "paraded." From meandering Duval Street with costumed and not-at-all-costumed revelers capping Key West's Fantasy Fest to stepping in the fussily-choreographed Fall River Celebrates America Parade. I have processed solemnly (or cheerily, or both) in saints' days processions, and I have also handed, reefed, and steered in Parades of Sail involving TallShips™.
As a broadcaster, the order of a march was rarely of consequence to me since names that I was required to say were imposed upon me in the preshow meetings. "And an appearance by The Hills-Mills Comedy Clown Band, so stay tuned..."
As participant, being in the festivities is in itself the reward, the honor in the action. But to this day I have no idea what manner of calculation and collusion goes into parade planning. I have seen "honored guests" appear at the very beginning of the parade, toward the middle of the parade, and at the very end of the parade. I'm sure that there is some ancient traditional codification, some erudite and trusted manual for parade organizers, but I have never seen it.
Ken Hartnett, though, may be privy to the abstruse machinations either honoring or abasing ambulators in processions, for he is quite put out by the placement of veterans in New Bedford's Veterans' Day parade. One veteran in particular, whom Hartnett befittingly singles out for notice and mention:

The recent Veterans Day parade included the thinning ranks of World War II veterans, including one of our region's biggest heroes, Calvin Siegal, who defied death and two German bullets in the Battle of the Bulge.
I look for Siegal in every parade because he marches proud and tall in his original uniform, a sight to see for those who know and honor him.
I know Cal from my days at the Whaling Museum, as well as from our membership in the "thinning ranks" of those who button shirt collars and choose to wear actual bowties.
At the appropriate opportunity -- here for instance -- I will praise Mr. Siegal for his business acumen, gracious community involvement, and fine example of public service.
As far as the appropriate placement of aspirant officers, City Councillors or other entertainers: Opening acts rarely draw the crowds or merit the applause. And I noticed last Thursday that very few kids left the Macy's Day Parade before Santa's appearance.
At the end.
And it should be noted: Although the hearse is located at the front of a funeral cortege, few want the honor of riding in it.

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