Slice of Life: 149 Years and Counting

(This is for the Slice of Life challenge, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write on Tuesdays about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

It was in our local newspaper, so it must be true (Ha! Take that, Trump!): the Memorial Day parade in a section of our small city is the oldest, continual Memorial Day parade in the entire country. It’s been 149 straight years of marching and counting!

This blurb is from the local newspaper, The Daily Hampshire Gazette:

The first parade was held in Northampton in 1868, just after the Civil War.

“The ceremony of decorating the graves of deceased soldiers in our cemetery was appropriately observed,” the Gazette reported in 1868. “The weather was bad, rain falling during the forenoon and at the hour of assembly but not-withstanding, a large number of people were on hand to participate in the exercises.”

A century and a half later, the community will continue the tradition.

So it did.

Memorial Day parade

Rainy skies kept the turnout relatively low yesterday, but we were there, as my son agreed to march with the Little Leaguers, even though he was one of the oldest (and tallest — that’s him in second row behind the sign) in the marching unit. He was reminiscing before the parade about the excitement he had when he first marched, about seven years ago. I suspect this might be one of his last years as a marcher, but not as spectator.

Memorial Day parade
But, who knows?

Next year, 150. We’ll be there, clapping and cheering on the veterans and local marching band, and baseball kids, dancing kids, and more as they walk the streets of our small city blocks. We’ll remember those who have fallen in battle, and the connection to our community.

Peace (marches on),

  1. One of the fondest memories from my childhood is rushing out the front door and standing at the square in our tiny borough to watch the local Memorial Day parade. Congrats on a 149 years in your community. May the tradition long live!

  2. I love how you started with a primary source from long ago and then add the present day. So much to reflect on. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I too loved the primary source find. I think it’s so important to share our thought and action connection. Tells us a lot about who we are as thinkers. Long live tradition.

  4. Kevin, it was raining yesterday so our town parade was cancelled. My Memorial Day post for Wonderopolis was the one that vanished in the wake of technical glitches but in a few weeks Wonderopolis tells me they will try to resurrect it. I love parades and it is wonderful that your town keeps the tradition started so long ago.
    Thanks for your response to Fran Haley, “The mind is a strange playground.” I used it to start a poem that came straight out of my dream early this morning. When the post is complete, I will send it to you with many thanks.
    PS: It is time to send me a spring poem for my gallery, Springsations. Maybe one will come out of the experience you are describing. Parades are definitely a springsational event.

    • Well, now, if words via a comment at another’s blog can inspire a potential poem in another friend … I’ll chalk that up to a good day!

    • Thanks, my friend. It is a nice tradition and reminds us that we are the ones who own our American Identity, not the one in the White House

  5. Your post about the Memorial Day parade brought back memories of my own childhood. Both my parents belonged to the local American Legion Post, and both marched every year in the local parade. That tradition continued when I had my own two children. Your photo reminded me of the simplicity of small town life, and I do miss it. New Hampshire looks/seems like a very grounded place to live.
    Thanks for the memories.

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