Every August we go to the Old Soldiers’ Day Parade in Alpharetta. Last year it started pouring down rain and everyone had to pack up and leave.
This year it was barely 80 and sunny. The Old Soldier’s Day Parade may well be the oldest established parade in the country. It started unofficially after the Civil War. all the Civil Veterans would set up camp outside of town for a weekend of doing whatever soldiers do when they get together. On Sunday, when it was all over with and they were headed home along the main road, everyone would gather along the side of the road to wave. That went on until after WWI when the old Civil War veterans invited the young WWI vets to join them. Then it fizzled out. In the 50s the American Legion Post in Alpharetta decided to revive the tradition. The day starts with a memorial service which we have yet to make, then the parade the free hot dogs from the Varsity at the American Legion. Although I don’t know if they did that this year, I didn’t hear anything about or anyone mention going. They also usually have a fly over that they didn’t this year unless they did it during the ceremony.
So it’s a great parade. Unlike Christmas, Memorial Day and Fourth of July there are no other parades going on so everyone is available. There are many veterans groups, four high school marching bands, lots of Boy Scout but no Girl Scouts this year, the Shriners from a couple of different temples (they’re weird but I love their little vehicles), motorcycles, the Corvette club and various other entries. And there is candy galore.
A submarine crew has picked up a mermaid!
Raising of the second flag on Iwa Jima. The first flag was too small to be seen from the beaches where the Marines were landing and the battalion commander wanted to take it down before it got stolen by someone else who said he wanted it. So he called for a replacement and said “make it bigger”. This was the second flag and the photographer nearly missed it. He ended up taking the photo without looking through the view finder and wasn’t sure if he even got the photo. But he did.
And then there’s the candy. The candy has taken on a presence of its own. At most parades you’re lucky if you get one or two pieces. Here it’s by the pound. We didn’t know that the first year and weren’t prepared. In years past someone has walked around passing out grocery bags. Most people remember to bring their own.
The official weighing.
One thing I’ve noticed about the parade over the years is there’s fewer and fewer veterans. And it’s truly old soldiers, I don’t think there was anyone younger than Vietnam. There have been a few Desert Storm people in the past. I wonder if the American Legion is having a hard time getting people. With the younger generation keeping up in other ways I wonder what the role of the American and Foreign legions will be. Other than maybe lobbying.
But it’s always a fun time and we love going. We sit on the same stretch of sidewalk with the same people every year. For the first few years we had that stretch to ourselves, that explains the five pounds of candy year.