Gratitude and patriotism expressed at annual VFW parade in Annapolis

June 01, 1993|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff Writer

Gray, overcast skies and a cool morning couldn't dampen the spirits of the hundreds of people who came out yesterday to watch the Annapolis VFW's 79th annual Memorial Day parade.

"Here it comes," shouted a young boy as he caught a glimpse of the police motorcycle escorts leading the parade around the curve at West Street and Spa Road.

Residents lined the parade route -- from the Annapolis National Cemetery on West Street through the historic district to the Naval Academy Cemetery, then ending at the City Dock -- in their finest red, white and blue.

They carried flags and balloons and staked out spots along the parade route with lawn chairs. Others faithfully followed the bands, cars and military units along their 3.5-mile trek.

But for all the celebration, few seemed to forget that the parade was to honor the United States' war dead.

Just after 9 a.m., a small crowd gathered in the National Cemetery to lay a wreath and offer prayers for the men and women who served and died in America's wars. Groups of veterans, from World War I to Vietnam, stood at attention along with soldiers, sailors, Marines and civilians to salute the flag.

As a lone bugler sounded "Taps," many in the cemetery daubed at tears in their eyes. Others, like Annapolis resident Sharon Jonkel, wept openly. Memorial Day has become especially emotional for her since her father, who served in the Army in World War II and Korea, died six years ago, she explained.

Her father tried to make sure his family understood the significance of Memorial Day, but "before he died, I don't think this meant as much to me," she said.

Now, Memorial Day is "a time when I can get my emotions out and say thank you to all the men and women who served our country," Ms. Jonkel said. "This is my way of making sure I don't forget what this day is really about."

Ann-Marie Beal said she usually comes to watch her "very patriotic" husband march with the unit from VFW Post 304, which sponsors the parade. But Mrs. Beal said she also takes time on Memorial Day to attend church.

"I usually like to go to pray for the repose of the souls of those who've served us well," she said.

Parents who brought their children to the parade showed them how to salute the flag, or explained the wars that the U.S. has been involved in.

For Miguel Ferrer, 3, it may have seemed that a lot of people came out to help celebrate his birthday. But his father said he wanted to explain the meaning of Memorial Day to his son and 4-year-old daughter, Montserrat.

"We're very fortunate we live in a town where they have this, where people come out to show their patriotism," said Miguel Ferrer, the father and Annapolis' economic development officer. "I think [Memorial Day] is a day to take time out and think of the people who have given of themselves for our country. That is what I want them to understand."

Dave and Wendy Reeves of Millersville dressed their children in red, white and blue to watch the parade. The Reeves, both of whom have fathers who served in the military, said it was important to first remember the war dead, then celebrate.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.