Our yearly parade on Memorial Day is always a stirring, wonderful event. Be there.
Here are the details:
The West Hartford Memorial Day Parade Committee announces the appointment of Attorney General Richard Blumenthal as the Honorary Parade Marshal of the 2007 West Hartford Memorial Day Parade.
The parade is scheduled for Monday, May 28, 2007. It will start at 10 a.m. from the corner of Woodrow Street and Farmington Avenue. It proceeds east on Farmington Ave. and turns onto South Main Street and onto the Town Hall.
First Lieutenant Jean-Paul Berard, US Army Reserves, a World War II veteran of the Pacific Theater and a retired West Hartford teacher, will lead the parade as the Parade Marshal. The Reverend Rick Hansen of the United Methodist Church of West Hartford will serve as Parade Chaplain and Tim Hussey of the Conard High School Band as the Parade Bugler.
Immediately following the parade, a memorial service will be held at the Veterans’ Memorial located at the intersection of Farmington Avenue and North Main Street. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal will be the keynote speaker.
The Central Connecticut Region of the Antique Car Club of America invites veterans and their spouses to ride in the parade in one of their antique cars. Veterans wishing to accept this invitation should be at the entrance of the town hall at 9:15 a.m. Participants will be returned to the Town Hall at the end of the parade.
West Hartford takes great pride in hosting an annual Memorial Day Parade on the observed date of this special and solemn holiday, the last Monday of May at 10:00 AM. It follows a tradition established by returning West Hartford veterans from World War I.
The West Hartford Memorial Day Parade Committee is a joint endeavor and cooperative effort of Hannon-Hatch VFW Post 9929, and Hayes-Velhage Post 96, The American Legion of West Hartford, in partnership with the Town of West Hartford.
The present parade route begins on Farmington Avenue at Four Mile Road traveling east and turning south onto South Main Street to Burr Street and ending at town hall.
Scrawled across the cover of the April 2 issue of Newsweek are a soldier’s words, in his own writing: “Any day I’m here could be the day I die.”
What follows inside is an extraordinary, deeply sad and wonderful look into the lives of our fallen troop — in their own words. It’s full of excerpts from letters, emails, instant messages, audio recordings and more that our warriors left behind after war took them from us forever.
Every reminder that so many of our soldiers are dying daily is a good thing, but this issue is a gift from Newsweek to America. It’s not particularly political in the narrow sense of bashing or bolstering President Bush, but it leaves an unmistakable impression that we’ve lost far too much.
Just looking at the pictures of men cuddling their babies breaks your heart, over and over and over.
I know the war is hell, that soldiers who perish leave gaping wounds at home, that battles grind up more than bodies. They blow up dreams. They shatter families. They leave a wreckage that goes far beyond the pieces of metal on a distant ground.
But what I realized as I read the words of these slain soldiers is that this war’s price is far too high for whatever it is that we’re getting out of it. After four years of conflict, it’s increasingly hard to see beyond the death toll, to see any vision at all for a future that isn’t just soaked in more patriots’ blood.
Bring ’em home.
After mulling it over for a couple of weeks, the Board of Education recently decided to hold school on Veterans Day next year. It took a 4-3 vote to make the call.
Now I don’t fault the school board members who voted to hold classes. They said there would be a concerted effort to use the time to teach students about what we all owe to our veterans. That’s probably better in many ways than just ignoring the day, like usual.
On the other hand, anyone who reads this week’s stunning Newsweek issue — which, for my money, is mandatory for all of us — can’t help feeling that what we owe these men and women goes far beyond a little classroom time. They’re fighting and dying even now, for our country, our freedom, us. The cause may not be worth the sacrifice, but the honor due to those who have answered the call is beyond calculation.
What ought to happen on Veterans Day is for everyone, from kindergarten to nursing home, to take time out to honor our warriors, past and present, and to thank them for making our nation strong, free and safe. A day off from school is a tiny price to pay for so much toil and blood.
Leave it to someone from the West Hartford-based 143rd Military Police unit to write a book of poetry about his experiences in Iraq. Though Captain Gregory Robert Samuels lives in Mansfield, it might be worth checking out his War Poems from Iraq.
Even though the Bush administration and Sen. Lieberman haven’t yet accepted that the war is lost, it’s clear enough that it is. All you have to do is talk to the returning soldiers. They know there’s nothing left to fight for, nothing there to win. It’s just a question of how much more of our blood and treasure is squandered in Iraq before we leave.
It’s not too early, however, to figure out what we did wrong. That strikes me as crucial if we are to get it right next time.
The answer seems pretty simple, really. We had a choice to make right at the start: were we going to whip Saddam and haul ass out of there, or were we going to occupy the country for the long haul? We planned for the first outcome, then adopted the second path, without a clue what it would take or where it might lead.
It strikes me looking back that we should have declared victory while the crowds were pulling down Saddam’s statues and then gotten the hell out there after putting some vaguely reasonable Iraqi general in charge of the transition to some new and more friendly government.
Why that didn’t happen is probably the administration’s lust for oil. They figured that we deserved it — and they weren’t about to risk having someone else take control of the oil fields. The quick seizure of Saddam’s oil ministry while museums were getting sacked shows where the priority was from day one.
You put oil men in the White House and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they act, well, oily.
Now that it’s all over except the fingerpointing — and watch how the GOP diehards try to blame the Democrats for their own failed war that happened when they controlled the entire U.S. government — we need to make sure that next time a president calls us to go into battle, we have a clear goal to achieve, then leave.
After all, we’re not imperialists. We’re no good at it because we’re not ruthless and we’re not mean. We give, not take. We just have no business occupying anywhere.
And let’s not elect any more of these crazy ass oil men.
Just read the sickening, wonderful news story from last Sunday’s Washington Post about the conditions that our wounded troops are living in at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. It’s appalling.
These men and women, who have suffered grievously in battle, are living in crappy old apartments with mold, mice, cockroaches and holes in the walls. They’re getting the bureaucratic runaround at every turn. Our heroes are treated like the pests they’re forced to live with.
I’m genuinely outraged. These bastards in Washington are constantly talking about how we must all support the troops — and this is how they treat our wounded warriors just down the road from the White House?
It makes me more convinced than ever that it’s time to stop this crazy war. Our guys are stuck in the middle of a civil war with no real allies, no plan for winning, no idea even what winning means. They’re getting blown away for nothing. And the ones who come back wounded in body and spirit are abused by the very government that sent them off to fight.
Thank God for The Washington Post and its willingness to peak behind the facade to let us know how badly the Bush administration is taking care of our troops. It shows once again what kind of men started and guided this war — officials who don’t give a damn what happens to my fellow Americans who had the guts and sense of duty to put themselves in harm’s way for all of us.