(I've developed the habit of posting my thoughts about each holiday. My 4th of July post came while on a ferry from Montenegro to Italy. Memorial Day was about my reaction to visiting the American Cemetery in Anzio. But, it was Kim's comment to that post, about the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day, that started me thinking about this holiday. So I decided to post early. Maybe some St. Louisans will read it and decide to prove me wrong.)
Are the people of St. Louis going to show our veterans how little we care again this year?
In a month and a half, on November 8th, 2008, St. Louis’ annual Veterans Day parade will begin at the Soldiers’ Memorial. The veterans marching down empty streets will be surprised if they draw more than a few thousand spectators.
What is wrong with us? Are we so ungrateful that we can’t spend a couple of hours one Saturday a year to show a little appreciation for the men and women who have served our country? My guess is yes, we’ll continue to stay home in apathetic droves.
After all, we'll still be suffering from election fatigue. Half of us will be recovering from celebrating our guy’s victory. The other half will be crying in our beer and predicting the end of civilization as we know it. So 100% of us can use our hangovers as our excuse.
Coming just four days after the election, we won’t be expecting any politicians to show up, will we? They won’t need our votes any longer. The winners have secured their own political gravy train for one more term. The losers will be licking their wounds and pimping themselves out for nice fat consulting contracts.
And of course there is the whole war debate itself.
Is the anti-Iraq contingent so angry that they can’t distinguish between the actual war and the men and women who served? They give lip-service to “our brave troops”, but do they really mean it? And what about the pro-Iraq faction? You’d think they’d be out there proudly waving their Red-White-&-Blue, wouldn’t you? But, since being pro-war has become so unpopular how many of them are willing to stand front and center for their belief? They’ll just stay home to rake leaves or go shopping to beat the Christmas rush.
We can turn out by the hundreds of thousands to lionize our sports teams when they have a championship season. We can jam Soulard for a series of Mardi Gras parades that celebrate nothing more than what kind of foolish costumes our poor dogs are forced to wear -- or how much beer it takes to induce us to lift our shirts in exchange for some cheap plastic beads.
If you ranked the annual attendance at St. Louis’ major parades, from Annie Malone to Veiled Prophet, I’m willing to bet that Veterans Day would come in dead last.
As far as I can see there isn’t even a website devoted to St. Louis’ Veterans Day parade, or an organization sponsoring and promoting it. It appears that it’s being handled by someone working it the Board of Public Service – part of the bureaucracy of St. Louis City government. With no citizen’s organization behind them doing the real organizing, what is the chance the city of St. Louis can getting its act together enough to promote any event, much less a big parade?
But in case you want to contact the person in charge, her title is Special Events. You can find her at the Board of Public Service. I'm sure she could use your help, or at least your promise to show up.
If every municipality in the St. Louis Metro area adopted just one side of each block of the parade route and promised to fill it with spectators, just think what a view our veterans would have as they marched down the middle of the street.