My ideal version of small town America includes a patriotic parade. We went up to Staten Island this weekend to visit family and to partake in the annual Staten Island Memorial Day Parade. They hold it early to capitalize on having a lot of the community of Great Kills participate in one way or another. Plus, by holding the parade a few weeks early the township avoids conflicting with other Memorial Day festivities and saves the cost of over-time money for the police and city workers. It's a win-win situation.
We went down to watch the kick off of the parade with not many high expectations. We figured there would be a few cars, some older armed services men and women walking along the parade route and bystanders waving flags. We'd see some cars, a few fire trucks and hear plenty of high school marching bands. I also thought there would be a lot of kooky photo opportunities. Boy, was I wrong. What I came away with was so much more than a cache of photos and a few stories. I saw people at their best and most real. I found pride and patriotism without the hokum and grandstanding as seen on television. I met an 88 year old war veteran still going strong; saw youngsters giddy with their newly found civic pride - holding flags, wearing their girl scout and cub scout uniforms with pride. I witnessed a community happy to come out to celebrate together. In short, I found my idyllic small town America. The video above is a few of the photos I took today, set to the music of Simon and Garfunkel's song, America. I think it captures the spirit of what I saw and felt today.