Today is the day for one of our three major parades in Milford, Michigan, and the one that my wife likes the best. She likes the Memorial Day Parade the best because it is the most honest and straightforward of all of the parades - no clowns, no politicians, no advertisements for businesses, just a parade of veterans and fly-overs by military and vintage planes. The streets of Milford are lined with thousands of people who clap for the veterans through the whole parade and say "Thank You" as they walk by.
I march in this parade every year and it does give me, and I'm sure the other vets, a sense of pride in what we did; no matter whether they were in a war or just served in peacetime. The parade organizer - Joe Silva of the Milford Am Vets tries to line up the vets in chronological order, with WWI and WWII vets first, then Korea and so on, although he does let currently serving military participants go at the head of the parade. My group, the Viet Nam vets is slowly (and sadly) working it's way towards the head of the parade as fewer and fewer WWI & II and Korean War vets survive to participate.
Joe has several jeeps lined up each year to transport those no longer able to walk the parade route. The parade also features military vehicles of various sizes and types and a Scottish bagpipe marching band at the front. There are fly overs by vintage WWII planes and usually some current military jets from Selfridge airbase.
The local florist passes out carnations to the children who line the parade route and they then hand them to vets as they walk by. The parade starts off at the Oldenburg VFW Post 216 on Commerce and goes down Main St ending at the War Memorial in Central Park. There is always a brief ceremony following the parade to honor those who have sacrificed their lives in service to their country. Many people who line the streets will have framed pictures of loved ones who have passed and some relatives of vets who are gone actually march in the parade carrying pictures of their lost vets.
So look for me out there today. I'll be in the Viet Nam vets group (I usually try to get near the front of that group). Some vets wear their old uniforms or bits and pieces of uniforms. I have nothing left from those days that I can still wear, so I'll just be in civilian clothes. I'll see you there.