BRANDON — Most of the people who gathered for the Brandon Memorial Day parade remember when it was a lot bigger, with a lot more spectators.
After all, it has only been a few years since the parade had horseback riders, kids on bikes, and a collection of military vehicles in addition to the Homer Fire Department and honor guard.
The old army vehicles weren’t there because their owner, George Ellis, passed away recently. This year’s parade was made up of the fire department, Knox County Joint Veteran’s Council, a boy scout and his family, and Brandon United Methodist Church Pastor Clarence Hensel and Brandon Baptist Church Rev. Marvin Haught.
They marched to Brandon Cemetery, where they held a service as solemn and respectful as any in the county.
Nancy Baker watched the parade from under a shade tree at the Methodist Church with Mary Schmidtz. They talked about what might be done to improve the parade for next year; kicking around the idea of a picnic and getting more young people involved. Others suggested a kazoo band.
“Don’t give up on us, we’ll bring it back,” Baker said.
There were almost as few parade-watchers as parade entries
There were more flags over graves in the cemetery than people who came to hear Haught and Hensel speak.
Haught said that Memorial Day weekend is seen as the official start to summer for most, but “to us, in Brandon, it is Memorial Day.”
Hensel said that the men and women who fought and died in our wars carried a lot of equipment and weapons with them as they trudged up mountains and fought on foreign fields as well as battlefields on U.S. soil.
The most significant thing they have borne, Hensel said, especially when fighting in foreign countries, is the flag.
“They not only carried the (weapons), but they carried the flag, so that others would know were fighting for the freedom of all,” Hensel said.
Hensel noted that with our armed forces committed in the Middle East, U.S. servicewomen and servicemen are still dying for that ideal of freedom.
The Joint Veteran’s Service Council held a 21-gun salute, picking up the spent shells to give as souvenirs to a few boys who watched the ceremony, held in front of the cemetery’s memorial to the unknown soldier.
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