Brian Jacobson
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Memorial Day Parade and Service in Milwaukee

By - Jun 1st, 2010 04:00 am
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I positioned myself at the perfect vantage point for viewing Monday afternoon’s Memorial Day Parade in downtown Milwaukee. Arriving 40 minutes early, I worried about finding an open spot. With only 15 minutes to go, I now began to worry that there wasn’t enough of an audience this year.

Along the stretch between 4th and Wisconsin Ave. to the Lincoln Memorial bridge, there was a fair amount of people — but nothing compared to the Great Circus Parade, St. Patrick’s Day Parade or the 4th of July Parade.

Just then, very quietly, an older couple unfolded butterfly lawn chairs alongside me. The woman began to read and the man took out his cell phone. He began talking to someone he obviously only gets in touch with on occasion.

“I’m just here, waiting for this parade and,” the man paused and became choked up, “I wanted to thank you for all you’ve done in service of this country and in the line of duty.”

In the distance, the unmistakable roar of Harleys signaled the start of the parade. It dawned on me that even if this couple were the only attendees watching the parade, it was worth holding it.

As luck would have it, I looked around again on the sidewalks and saw more faces and American flags. The stretch before the War Memorial was packed as marchers made their way down to the lakefront.

It was a parade bereft of commercialism or novelty pomp and filled with patriotism. Government officials marched behind their parade vehicles, high school bands played “The Caissons Go Rolling Along” while men and women both young and old walked proudly in uniforms representing all the branches of Armed Services.

After the parade, Bill Stys led the service and prayer at the reflecting pool in the courtyard of the War Memorial where four wreaths were layed and names of those being remembered today were spoken aloud.

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