Fire trucks on parade
From: Larry Slagle
What is the 4th of July and why do we celebrate it?
July 4th is the anniversary of this great nation of ours, and has been celebrated for 215 years.
It gives all of our citizens the opportunity to display patriotism, whether it's going to fireworks, picnics, or the many parades that this country sees. July 4th belongs to us all.
One should look back over the last two centuries, and see what/who has made this nation the "superpower" it has become. We all had a hand, the steel workers in the mills, the secretaries in the offices, the public safety servants keeping us safe from ourselves, to the chief executive, sitting in the Oval Office, and everyone in between. We all had a hand.
So, what is this controversy the Bel Air Parade Committee has created? They have asked the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company to limit its participation in the parade. This has offended the fire company, and they have decided not to participate.
Other Harford County fire companies, in a show of solidarity for the Bel Air company, are also boycotting the parade. For this action, I say "Bravo!" and support the fire companies in this endeavor.
Ever since Ben Franklin organized the first volunteer fire company in Philadelphia, firefighters and their equipment have been an integral part of parades. This is especially so for the Fourth of July Parade. Why is this so?
Next time you go past your local fire station, take a good look. Firefighters are probably among the most patriotic people in this country, and stand there shoulder to shoulder with our veterans. Most firefighters still stand up and uncover for the American flag and Star Spangled Banner, and were outraged over the recent flag-burning controversy that swept the nation. Most likely, the fire station will be flying the American flag, "Old Glory," the symbol for that which we stand. In wartime, firefighters are usually among the first to volunteer for combat. Even in %o peacetime, firefighters make up a significant number of our National Guardsmen and Reserves. This has been so for over 200 years.
That's why firefighters and fire trucks belong in the 4th of July Parade, everywhere.
I will ask you to think back to past parades. What, besides fire trucks, has the parade consisted of? Politicians, floats, bands, baton twirlers, Scout groups, construction equipment, tractors, new cars from local dealerships, etc. As has been said, this makes for a long parade. The complaint has been made that some groups finish marching after darkness has fallen. Several things can be done to shorten the parade, besides penalizing the fire companies.
Most of the bands and baton twirlers like to perform. The problem is, it seems as though they perform every 20 feet. The result, the parade behind them comes to a standstill. The solution: set a time limit for performance, say two minutes, and limit all performances to in front of the judges' stand, under penalty of disqualification. The best thing about fire trucks is, they don't stop to perform.
As long as the parade is moving, they move, and continue moving right past the judge's stand. One suggestion is to start the parade earlier. To me this is more practical than starting so late in the afternoon.
Another thing is this, what are construction equipment and new cars doing in a parade? What's the purpose? Apparently, it went right on by me, and I missed it!
So, where does this leave us? Some people might still think there are too many fire trucks. This might seem so, given the present circumstances the parade is conducted under.
If the parade marshals were to heed my previous suggestions, this would significantly reduce the length and monotony of the parade, while increasing spectator enjoyment.
This would also allow the fire companies the level of participation they deserve and desire.
The 4th of July belongs to everybody, and everybody ought to be allowed to participate to their fullest, within the theme of the parade.
Fire trucks and maturity
From: Kay Lewis Wilson
I think the "kids" in your June 28, 1992, headline "No need for alarm, kids: The fire trucks will roll" are the members of the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Department and not their children and their friends' children who picketed the fire station to protest the fire department's decision to withdraw from the fourth of July parade because they didn't want to honor the parade committee's request (which came in response to citizen request) that they limit the number of vehicles in the parade.
Although I agree with the citizens who complained about the over-abundance of fire department vehicles in the parade, what really concerns me about this "tempest in a teapot" are the larger issues of maturity and compromise.