This column ran in The Gazette 11 years ago. Granddaughter Emmersen has finished her freshman year of college. But this memory is vivid and the message timeless. Thank you for reading it.
Parade is a chance to honor our country
I’m something of a parade junky. Growing up in the Hollywood district of Portland, I was treated each year to the Junior Rose Parade forming in front of our house. It always felt like the parade was our family’s very own, personal event.
It made me love parades.
Even before they could walk, our kids went with me to all sorts of parades. Joel and Amanda worked last summer at The Gazette and lived with us in Cannon Beach. When the community’s Fourth of July parade rolled around, all the Hungerfords watched the parade from The Gazette’s offices above the Purple Moon boutique on Hemlock. Perfect seats!
Last Wednesday, I took off work and drove to Portland to take my granddaughter Emmersen to the Junior Rose Parade. Mom still lives in that same house in the Hollywood district and this parade is still special for me, even though it’s been years since I last went to one. I wanted to share that feeling of parade ownership with Emmersen, who has just turned 8.
Prior to the parade, the two of us walked up and down the streets in
my old neighborhood getting a preview of the participants. The floats were lined up in front of mom’s house, bands were one street over, the individual participants were on the street behind ours. We oooed and aahhed over pets and floats and marching groups, and I took pictures of her with her favorite entries in the parade.
Ten minutes before the parade was to begin, we took our folding chairs and walked two blocks to a great location near the head of the parade. As is tradition, a Scout group began the parade with a formal color guard.
My dad was a Scoutmaster and our youngest son had been active in Scouting, so I spontaneously stood as the American flag passed by. Emmersen is a “parade novice” and wasn’t familiar with the traditions of standing as the flag passes, but after I explained it to her, she happily stood with me and placed her hand over her heart.
We were the only ones to do so. As far as we could see, no one else stood to show their respect for our flag.
It was sad for me to see all those parents and all those children just sitting, impatiently waiting for the color guard to move past so the “real” parade could begin. Perhaps standing for the American flag makes me terribly old-fashioned; if so, then I ‘m proudly old-fashioned.
The American flag is a symbol of our country. I’m not happy with the way our country is being governed right now, but I am thrilled to live in a nation where I have the right to say that out loud, and in print, without fear of being tossed in jail for disagreeing with our leaders.
Emmersen asked why so many people had failed to stand for the flag. I told her I could only hope that it was their lack of knowledge of this important custom, rather than boredom or unwillingness to show it the respect it deserves.
My granddaughter came away from the Junior Rose Parade having learned some important things about attending parades. Top of that list was to show respect by standing up when the American flag goes by. I hope she remembers this always.
Cannon Beach’s Fourth of July parade is just around the corner. So
please remember to stand when the American flag goes by. My dad, my granddaughter and I would thank you.