The Mayor’s Corner

The Franklin Memorial Day Parade this year was an eye opener for me. By its very brevity, it may have been one of the more understated events I’ve seen. There were no scouts, no 4H clubs, no bicycles, no ponies or horses, no four-wheelers, no doodlebugs, no floats, no fire companies from other communities, no fire queens or dairy princesses. I find no fault with the organizers – they did what they could with what they had. The times simply have changed, and many of us who were there to watch shared a collective sense of surprise and concern.

Parades have taken place since prehistoric times when hunters proudly returned to their clans with the bounty of their efforts. There were magnificent parades that celebrated the ancient Olympic games, and military parades like that which took place in 223 BC when Marcus Marcellus returned to Rome with his army, having defeated the Gauls in the north. In this country, George Washington organized parades during the Revolutionary War to lift the spirits of both his soldiers and the residents of the colonies. There were torchlight parades in the 19th century to energize the crowds before elections. At the completion of the Civil War, the famous Grand Review of the Army of the Republic took place in Washington DC. On August 14th 1945 (VJ Day), the victory parade in Times Square was observed by more than two million celebrants.

Today, many of us watch the Rose Bowl Parade and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and possibly the St. Patrick’s Day Parade from the comfort of our living rooms.

For children, the drums beating, horns blaring, sirens wailing, people in uniforms marching, horses clopping, beauty queens waving, flags flying and adults clapping, parades offer a unique introduction to community life. For adults, parades offer a stage where all can come together to enjoy those things that we appreciate in common. In this “melting pot” country, parades have often helped create a better understanding between cultures and ethnic groups, though at times they have also created the opposite effect. Memorial Day parades tend to be both somber and joyful, as we pay homage to those whose lives were lost yet celebrate in a manner that vindicates all that was sacrificed in order to secure our ability to freely congregate and celebrate.

In Franklin we need to take ownership of this event…all of us. We need people to step forward to assist the parade organizers. We need to revive or invent children’s clubs that function outside of school, like scouts or 4H or something similar. We need younger parents to step up, as their predecessors did before them, to provide leadership for these organizations. We need floats, horses, convertibles, clubs, businesses, and other components of the village and town to march along as well so that parade watchers can see how wonderful the greater Franklin community is. We need to do this because we have a patriotic responsibility to “carry on” for those who sacrificed on our behalf, and this is a good way to make it happen.

Originally published in the Summer 2023 issue of the New Franklin Register.