Yesterday, the small city just west of Minneapolis that I call home had our first Memorial Day Parade. Well, at least the first in recent history. It was followed by a ceremony on the Golden Valley City Hall grounds. My dad drove his 1919 Model T in the parade with a POW/MIA flag draped on the seat next to him while my two oldest sons and I rode in the back. So we had a bird's-eye view of the crowd on hand.
I was impressed both by its size and makeup. While the Hugh Hewitt age cohort (sixty-plus) was well represented as they usually are at such events, there were a lot of young families with kids as well. It was encouraging to see so many come out to honor the fallen on a national holiday that for many has become more of a time to relax than remember. This bodes well both for our citizenry and for the future of this particular event, which we hope will become an annual affair. (Pictures of the parade available here.)
Matt Abe at North Star Liberty was also involved and has a good write up:
The program had all of the elements of a proper Memorial Day observance. The weather was perfect. The Armstrong High School band and choir played and sang. The mayor read a proclamation. Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion groups read the honor roll of their members who had passed away since Memorial Day last year. Many youth groups attended: the Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, ROTC groups. An Air Force brigadier general told a harrowing combat story to capture the importance of remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. The dead were honored with a three-round volley, Taps, and a wreath was laid to the playing of bagpipes. The proceedings were opened with an invocation, the Pledge of Allegiance, and The Star Spangled Banner, and closed with a benediction. And in a truly small-town gesture, the grilled hot dogs, chips, and pop were free (take one of each please).
There was the usual panoply of elected officials and political candidates on the dais, but there was almost no campaign activity (save for a sole Emmer for Governor volunteer). The focus was on honoring the military dead, POW-MIAs, and active duty military and veterans, and expressing gratitude for their service.
The entire event was refreshing clear of politics of any kind. Well, at least serious politics of any kind. An attendee at the event sent me an e-mail about his close encounter of the third party kind:
Ken Pentel--candidate for Governor--was at the ceremony and asking people to sign his petition to file during TAPS. First Sergeant Chapman from Minnesota Transitions High School, confronted him at that moment and I did after I heard about it when all was said and done. We got into it on the street when he stated to me that, and I quote: "I don't celebrate the dead, I celebrate the living..."
This guy is nut and I told him he wasn't qualified to be my commander in chief as Governor because he lacked the wisdom of knowing how to present himself at a Memorial service. He later rode up on his bike and thanked me for my service, apologized for yelling at me, and stated we probably agree on more things than not. He has no business running for Governor.
And yet he is. Again:
Ken Pentel is used to running for governor. He did it in 1998, 2002 and 2006.
The bike-riding former Green Party leader is doing it again--this time with the brand-new "Ecology Democracy Party." He said the Green Party has a "great platform and beautiful people in it," but wasn't focused enough. He said he made a "clean break" from the former major party two years ago.
The new party, he said, was just established this month.
"It's going to be very bare bones grassroots," Pentel said. "I'm going to be biking and staying with friends and supporters along the way."
It's a campaign of ideas, not money, he said.
Yes, ideas. Like asking people to sign your political petition at a Memorial Day ceremony while Taps is playing. Fortunately for Ken Pentel, his right to behave like an ignorant jackass has been secured by generations of men willing to sacrifice secure our freedoms. Whether he wants to celebrate them or not is his choice. Based on the crowd on hand yesterday, he seems to be in a distinct minority. At least in the Valley.
UPDATE: I forget to mention how surprised I was not to see Brian "Saint Paul" Ward in attendance yesterday. While it's true that it's quite a haul from his stately Stillwater estate to Golden Valley, I've seen the man go to far greater lengths in his never-ending quest for FREE hot dogs.