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I Knit Around

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Why I Don't Sleep in on Memorial Day; and, K is for Korea

Life in a small town is always special. Just like the big city, there are parades for special occasions and holidays. Only somehow, they are more personal. Perhaps because the half of the town that isn't watching the parade isn't in it.

Or, if like us you live right downtown along the parade route, it might be because you have a built-in front row seat.

We only have a couple of parades a year here in Wilton. There is the Children's Halloween Parade at the end of every October. And then, there is the Memorial Day Parade.

The local American Legion Post is about a block down the road that runs behind Town Hall. Memorial Day parades always form there. The parade has to do a bit of a loop-de-loop in order to manage a Main Street procession before arriving at the town War Memorials. See, the War Memorials are just beyond the north end of Main Street. The Parade procession begins at the north end of the street, just below the memorials, then moves south along Main St. Then they have to get everybody back to the north to the memorials for the services. And then, everyone goes back to the American Legion post for a party.

Our home is located such that the parade passes our house on every possible leg of the trip.

The Parade Begins
First pass: Starting at 9:00 a.m., the parade moves down Maple St. from the American Legion Post, behind Town Hall;

The First Pass
They pass right beneath our living room windows on this leg.

At this time, the band isn't actually playing full music, but the drums are beating out a marching rhythm every step of the way: rrrrrat-ta-tat! rrrrat-ta-tat! rrrrat-ta-tat-a-ta rrrrat-ta-tat!

Down Main Street
Second pass: They turn south on Main Street. Still effectively right below our windows.

This is when the band begins to play for real. Wilton is lucky in that the band that plays our event is the Temple Town Band, known as "America's First Town Band". And they aren't kidding, folks - they celebrated their 200th birthday in 1999. That means they've been in existence since 1799!

After the parade has passed down the length of Main Street, they have to get back to the War Memorials at the north end. So they come back up to Maple Street. Only this time...

Here They Come Again
Third pass: The parade now turns down the other side of our house, so they can go past the library down the block and arrive at the Memorials.

Parade Past the Bedroom
The time is now 9:21 a.m. On the left, you see the Temple Town Band, drums still beating away. On the right, the two lower windows behind Gryphon are my bedroom.

This pass takes them down to the War Memorials, where a service about an hour long takes place. Then, just in case you missed them the first three times, they do a Fourth Pass: another full procession down Main Street.

Wilton at Memorial Day - the parade so great, it has repeats.

And that's why I don't sleep in on Memorial Day. The first May we lived here, we didn't know about how the parade is handled, or that it happens so early in the day. We still had the bead store, and that Monday was one of our blissful few days off. We had great hopes of sleeping in.

Until about 9:15 or so, when I heard rrrrrat-ta-tat! rrrrat-ta-tat! rrrrat-ta-tat-a-ta rrrrat-ta-tat! right outside my bedroom window. It's a wonder I didn't pee the bed, I was so scared. And then, by the time I crawled out of the covers and peered through my blinds, there was a team of large horses pulling a cannon mere feet away from my startled face.

Ever since then, Gryphon and I have, reluctantly, made a point of setting our alarms so that we can be awake by choice before we get drummed out of bed.

It's not, perhaps, how we'd prefer to spend a day off. But for a holiday like Memorial Day, we don't mind making this adjustment. We may not often agree with what our country's leaders choose to do with regards to armed conflict, but Gryphon and I both agree that it's appropriate to honor those men and women who serve in a very difficult and dangerous profession on behalf of others.

K is for Korea


Which brings me to my "K" in the ABC-A-Long. K is for Korea.

Odd choice, you may be thinking. Well, I don't know all the details, but I do know that Korea was a formidable influence in my family, even before I was born.

My father, you see, served in the U.S. Army in the Korean War. He was injured in combat, and to this day receives a pension based on that injury.

I know little about all this, though, because he has really never talked about it with me, my sister, or my brother. Perhaps he never felt right telling us what happened to him there. I do know that when the TV series M*A*S*H came along, it was at least a season or two before he would let the family watch it. He actually passed through a MASH unit, and the show must have evoked bad memories for him.

He did once open up to my husband, Gryphon. Perhaps because Gryphon was able to share tales of his own father's experiences as an American POW in a German Stalag. Gryphon has told me bits of what my father had to say, and suffice it to say that, although it was a tale very typical of many soldier's stories after active combat, it wasn't an experience that anyone would choose to go through.

What exactly happened isn't important, though. The fact is, my father served his country in a foreign war, and it affected his life and the life of his own family for years after, in ways I'm not even entirely sure of.

I'm a bit unresolved about how I feel about it all. I sometimes wonder what my father would have been like without these experiences, and therefore, what my own life would be like. I wonder whether it's right for any nation to ask that sort of sacrifice of their citizens. And I wonder if we'll ever have a world where it won't be necessary to do.

So, K is for Korea. I know you changed my father's life, and therefore mine.

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