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Thoughts on the parade issue

Posted Friday, November 13, 2009, at 3:57 PM

The issue of whether or not the two high school marching bands should have participated in this year's Veterans Day Parade has attracted a lot of back-and-forth discussion on our web site. In reading the discussion, several things occurred to me.

* If I were planning a parade, I'd probably think of having at least one marching band as pretty important. It's like the developer of a shopping center looking for an "anchor tenant." It just doesn't seem as much like a parade without at least one band. So I'd probably want to talk informally with band directors and make some arrangements before publicly announcing the date and time of the parade. If there were a problem, I might want to see if there's some way to reschedule that would make everyone happy. A great parade on the 10th is better than a good parade on the 11th.

* You may recall that, some years ago, veterans tried to get the school system to call off schools on Veterans Day so that a daytime parade could be held. School system officials said at the time they just don't have any more free days to play with and that it's better to keep kids in school but make sure that Veterans Day is acknowledged in some form or fashion during the school day. That ensures that every child gets the message, not just those whose families choose to attend the parade.

* Hard-and-fast declarations criticizing someone for attending the parade instead of church, or attending church instead of the parade, are misguided. Missing the parade to attend church doesn't mean you don't honor veterans, while missing church to attend the parade doesn't mean you don't love God. A parade is one way to express patriotism and gratitude; it's hardly the only way, or even the most important way. I believe in, and practice, regular church attendance, but I also believe that (as Jesus said) the Sabbath was made for man, and not the other way around.

I've never been to a Titans game at LP Field, and so if someone gave me tickets for a noon kickoff game I would, most likely, skip church that Sunday in order to go. That would not be an indication that I value the Titans more highly than I value God; it would be a special opportunity, one which I would hope God would allow me to accept. Ideally, I could find some other way of spending time in worship that day, earlier or later than my normal church service. Now, if I put leisure time activities ahead of church on an ongoing basis, that would be a different matter, and perhaps an indication of wrong priorities on my part.

I would hope we would honor and thank veterans in a number of ways, including by being good citizens 365 days a year, and that we would worship God 365 days a year, through our deeds as well as our words.

* The church I attend, First United Methodist, had the good fortune to be on the parade route. We had our normal Wednesday night meal, then those who wanted to walked outside to watch the parade, and then we went back inside and continued with our normal Wednesday night routine. So I got to have it both ways.

* The reason we honor veterans is because they have sacrificed to defend our rights -- including the right to worship as we please. That's a powerful statement, and I think it's a statement that prevents either side of this dispute from getting on too much of a high horse. Veterans can't blame civilians for exercising their Constitutional rights, while civilians need to recognize the role played by veterans in securing those rights.

Showing comments in chronological order
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Excellent post!

-- Posted by nathan.evans on Fri, Nov 13, 2009, at 6:35 PM

i thought it was a very sad parade- not much decoration or attendance. we go to church on wednesdays but i have 2 boys that are in boy scouts so we did not go to church but we attended the parade.

-- Posted by jssg1975 on Sat, Nov 14, 2009, at 7:43 PM

Maybe we need to invite a band from another school. If our schools are just too busy, I'm sure other schools would like the opportunity. Especially if their local area has one on another day or maybe they're area doesn't have a parade. There should be no excuse next year not to have a band with all the uproar from this year!

-- Posted by neighborhood mom on Sun, Nov 15, 2009, at 6:57 AM

Thanks for weighing in on this issue John. It is very sad that or schools chose not to participate and honor those who risked--and even gave their lives for our freedoms. What values are we passing on to our children?

I come from a military family...my father, both grandfathers, two uncles...and now my youngest son who turned 18 has enlisted. I would hope that their service would mean something to those for whom they fought to protect.

-- Posted by shawna.jones on Mon, Nov 16, 2009, at 1:02 AM

Excellent post, John. The veterans should be honored and not just on Veterans Day but it is their day of recognition. I hate the fact none of our county schools saw fit to attend the parade. But I don't want the people of Bedford County blaming the children of the bands, they were only doing as they were told. They do not make the decisions on where they play or where they don't.

-- Posted by Dianatn on Mon, Nov 16, 2009, at 9:47 AM

John - Outstanding post! Thank you.

-- Posted by Thom on Tue, Nov 17, 2009, at 12:27 AM

Veteran's Day to me and most veterans I believe feel honored that one day a year is set aside for honoring thier service.

Since, it is a Federal Holiday I feel the congress or president should set aside the 2nd Saturday in November every year as the date for this celebration. I believe it would relieve the stress placed on many communities, in particular schools. I feel it should be a daytime parade so many can actually see the parade (hard to see at night) and more seniors and families could enjoy the festivities of the day together. Until this occurs every year that the day falls monday thru friday will present re-occuring headaches for all concerned.

-- Posted by dipperdan on Wed, Nov 18, 2009, at 8:57 AM

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John I. Carney is city editor of the Times-Gazette.
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