Friday, June 4, 2010

Residents Upset about Memorial Day Parade

The Bowie Blade-News Readers' Views section this week has three letters criticizing last weekend's Memorial Day Parade. The common theme is that the politicians ruined the parade.

World War II veteran S. J. Hill Jr advocates an outright ban on politicians marching with exceptions made for politicians that are veterans, and Hill believes it should be a "somber day as flags are waved in the breeze and hands are placed across chests."

Michael Kohout believes that politicians should "find another venue to garner support," and he describes them as "shameless." Kohout said that he won't name names, but I think most people would agree that Michael Jackson was the biggest offender.

Pam Starling said that she will not attend another Bowie Memorial Day Parade, and she believes that Memorial Day should be about "remembering those who sacrificed and gave it all." Although it may not have been her intention, Starling appears to take a swipe at the kids in attendance.
Too bad the children in the crowd were more concerned with catching the candy and collecting stickers and "stuff" than being exposed to real "heroes."

Wow. Shame on my five-year-old for being interested in candy at a parade. I'll give Pam Starling the benefit of the doubt. She probably meant that it was the adults' fault for turning the parade into a candy grab.

Multiple Memorial Day events were held last weekend. The parade was held on Saturday, a free concert was held at Allen Pond Park on Sunday, and a ceremony was held at Veterans Memorial Park on Monday. The theme of all of the Memorial Day weekend events is to honor soldiers that paid the ultimate sacrifice, but each event honors the soldiers in different ways. Monday's event was certainly the more somber of the events, and the parade on Saturday was the most celebratory. Fallen soldiers can be honored through celebration, and that's what a Memorial Day parade should be about. The three events together achieved a good balance.

Limiting what groups can and can't be in the parade isn't the right solution. Politicians in general aren't very popular this year, so they are easy targets. The politicians also didn't help themselves by holding up the parade. But what about the classic cars? What does a 1966 Turbo Corvair have to do with honoring fallen soldiers? What about the the Greenbelt Sity Stars jump roping group? What about the Klotz Institute of Karate? Should we only allow people to march with red, white or blue belts?

Preference should be given to veterans groups, and limits may need to be put in place for the number of participants. Parades should be about inclusion of people and groups from the community - not exclusion. Politicians should be allowed to march or ride, and we can judge them on their performance.

The Bowie Memorial Day parade is a victim of its own success - made worse by an active election year. The parade is a fun and popular event, and this year's parade was the largest in recent memory. A large parade is not necessarily a bad thing, but the participants have to keep moving. Bowie officials should focus on how to keep the parade flowing. Meeting that challenge may require a lot more volunteers.

Politicians in general have low approval ratings in 2010, but we need to be engaging with elected officials - not shunning them. I'm pretty sure that the person who will be running the Prince George's County government for the next four years marched in the Bowie Memorial Day Parade last Saturday. Bowie is the largest city in the county, and residents should expect and demand that the officials running our county engage with citizens of Bowie. In fact, I'll be disappointed if the County Executive doesn't march in next year's parade.

It's too bad that some residents won't be attending the parade next year, but that does mean more candy for me.

See this week's Bowie Blade-News Readers' Views section by clicking here.


  1. Why would you be disappointed if the County Executive doesn't march? The current County Executive didn't march this year either.But really, who really wants to see that criminal anyway?

    I thought the parade was great, however the politicians were a bit much. (my 5-year old daughter, however did have the last word with Sheriff Michael Jackson though. When he introduced himself, she told him "I like your song!")

    As for having more volunteers, it may have been more helpful to have the volunteers better spaced out. Trying to get into the parking lot at Bowie High School Annex (as a participant) was nightmarish, as you were stopped every 5 feet by a different volunteer asking where you were going and directing you to the back of the building. Maybe if they were better allocated it would've run more smoothly.

  2. Ha. I love the Michael Jackson quote. I wonder which song she was thinking about!

    I should have been more specific with my comment on the volunteers. I spoke to some of the City of Bowie employees who were working that day, and they pointed out that in larger city parades, parade volunteers hold the banners and set the pace for each group. However, there were 107 registered groups at the last parade, and that would be a lot of people to hold banners. I'm interested to see what the city comes up with.

    As far as my comments on the County Executive are concerned, I realize that most people could care less about whether or not the office holder is there. However, I think the person in that role has a responsibility to go to events in the County - to be seen and to hear from the people in the County. It is symbolic that the County Exec be there.

  3. oh I agree--they SHOULD be there, whether or not people like them. My point was that this year, he *wasn't*

  4. The Corvairs in the parade were driven by veterans.