As we creep slowly down the street you can hear kids laughing, parents cheering, and the sound of cameras flashing energetically. We take the exaggerated wide turn down the main strip with crowds on both sides of the street. You can see a flood of red, white, and blue all disguised as flags being waved or banners hung from lamp posts above. Behind the crowd you can see the magnificent architecture and its deep history that’s even older than some of the states being represented on them.
The Big Idaho Potato had the privilege of attending the National Memorial Day Parade this week, and the honor of hosting multiple war veterans. In preparation for the parade many floats, bands, and mascots lined up to walk the stretch of monuments near the presidents humble home. We decorated the truck by replacing the cautious red flags at all four corners with ginormous American flags. Each veteran was armed with their own hand held flag to show their spirit and add to the decoration of the event. Spuddy buddy got the best seat in the house right on the front with a bow added to the nose of the truck. I was super excited to attend this event for this would be the biggest parade I personally have ever been a part of.
We past many of the video cameras and main stage as we neared the halfway point. Band members lined the left side of the street with trumpets in hand. They were spread out about 25 yards each along the whole length of the road. Briskly they raised their instruments and a tidal wave of silence fell over the parade as they commenced the playing of Taps. We stood in silence for 3:00 minutes to commemorate all the fallen soldiers that fought so bravely for our freedom.
A flood of emotions raced through my mind during this break of silence as we respected our fallen ancestors. I couldn’t help but think back to when I felt the most freedom and happiness in my own life. My memory took me to one of my fondest family reunions. A time where we all gathered around the campfire near the Teton Mountains to share food, laughter, and stories. Two of my cousins serve in the Navy while another serves in the Army. Many of my relatives including my grandpa had fought in World War II and had given their own lives. It was always a running joke for the cousin in the Army to heckle the cousins who wore their silly white hats. They never hesitated to dish the heckling right back commenting that, “when he learned how to swim they would let him come play!” Here in this moment there was no heckling or joking around about which service had seniority. No, here you found a much higher level of respect. The five branches of service; Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy were all represented in some form or another and all given the highest up most respect. It dawned on me then that my cousins weren’t actually poking fun at each other but simply stoking the fire of a brotherhood they knew deep down they shared. This Brotherhood was in plain sight here today and was felt during this moment of silence.
We began to inch forward once more to the finish line of the parade. Suddenly the pictures I was taking from various angles of the veterans on the truck didn’t seem so important anymore. When we screeched to a halt at the end of the road I made it my own importance to shake each and every one of those veterans’ hands and thank them for their service. The Big Idaho Potato shared in a much higher purpose this week and we will never forget the veterans who sacrificed for a much higher purpose! We Thank You!